When I set out to help families make better financial decisions, I quickly realized they needed a system.  Systems such as Weight Watchers, P90X, and The South Beach Diet offer a roadmap that helps followers reach their goals.  They address the number one source of stress by giving people a plan.  They serve as a guide to help people make more consistent decisions.  And, last but not least, they offer piece of mind.

I developed the SmartPath SystemTM to offer the same benefits.  This system helps individuals and families prioritize their financial decisions from paying off debt to saving for retirement to buying the things they want.  It provides a clear roadmap on where to focus, in which order and how.  This blog will touch upon individual topics within the system but it’s the collective power that can truly change lives.

The SmartPath SystemTM

The SmartPath System is simple.

1) Spend less than you make (it’s called financial fuel)

2A) Reach 7 SmartGoals.

2B) Take 7 SmartActions.

That’s it.  Oh, and enjoy life along the way.  Here are some more details:

1) Spend Less Than You Make (aka Building Financial Fuel)

Imagine taking a road trip with no gas in the car.  I could give you directions, help you avoid traffic and highlight every speeding trap.  It wouldn’t matter.  You can’t go anywhere without gas. The same holds true for your financial life.  You can’t reach the 7 SmartGoals without monthly financial fuel.  It sounds easy but consistently spending less than you make is the hardest part of the SmartPath system.

Here are the key drivers of Financial Fuel:

2A) Reach 7 SmartGoals

Once you have financial fuel, where do you put it?  Welcome to the SmartGoals.

Here are the 7 SmartGoals (in order):

  1. Contribute up to the Match for Retirement
  2. Build 1-month Emergency Fund
  3. Pay off Bad Debt
  4. Increase Emergency Fund to 3-6 months
  5. Increase Retirement contribution to 20% of Income
  6. Save for College
  7. Save for Bucket List

Follow SmartGoals in order.  The order works.  It’s based on the fundamentals of money management and will give you the best chance for long term success. Each goal will take time.  In fact, you can calculate exactly how long it will take and put it on your SmartGoal Timeline.  That’s 50% of your plan.  It’s a roadmap and puts your financial life on autopilot so you can enjoy life.

2B) Take 7 SmartActions

Your financial life is more than a set of goals.  There’s other ‘stuff’ you must address to have a stable financial life.  Each item requires action.  Pick one action per month.  Tackle it, finish it and move on.  Every year, you should revisit these 7 SmartActions.

  1. Minimize Bank Accounts
  2. Stablize Housing
  3. Protect with Insurance/Estate
  4. Review Credit Report
  5. Invest based on Age, Time and Risk
  6. Set Money Rules in Relationships
  7. Create a Plan to Pass Down Wealth

There it is.  Every month, your money ‘to-do’ list should consist of 3 things – 1) spending less than you make, 2) one SmartGoal, and 3) one SmartAction.  Don’t try to overachieve.  Follow the System and you’ll see results.  What’s the best place to start?  Put some gas in the car.  You need fuel.

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