Financial planning is about getting to grips with your money to help your goals become a reality. You start by looking at your household budget and your bills. Do you have money left at the end of the month? Are you spending too much on some things and not enough on others?  Are there new expenses on the horizon that you haven’t prepared for?

Financial planning isn’t just about saving and investing. Taking control of your day to day budget and understanding what you spend your money on is probably the most important part of dealing with your personal finances. Until you know what you’ve got to spend, you can’t decide what to spend it on.

Decide on your financial priorities. Are you and your family protected against the unexpected? Most people insure their homes and cars from loss or damage but how would you or your family manage if you couldn’t work because of illness or even worse, if you died suddenly? Preparing for the unexpected is just as important as planning for the future. Take out insurance to cover these unexpected shocks and try to have some accessible funds to use in an emergency.

Short-term goals might be saving up for a car, a wedding or a deposit for a new home or anything that might be cropping up within the next five years. How are you going to fund these goals? Keep funds for short-term goals accessible – don’t tie them up for too long or invest them where they might lose value.

Long-term goals include paying off your mortgage early or having enough to live on in retirement. We all know that long-term planning is important but day to day living can often get in the way. Start by putting small amounts aside to cover your long-term goals.

If you feel that you need some guidance in deciding what is financially important, identifying gaps in your financial security, the best way to save or invest for goals, or about how much risk you are prepared to take (and are able to take) to achieve your goals, contact a financial broker.