Time for another personal finance planning post on a cold Sunday morning in Melbourne. Today I want to talk about a process known as the five year plan. This is was of those things where the earlier in life you start using it the more valuable it becomes to you. A five year plan is exactly what it pertains to be – a plan for the next five years of your life.
Here is how things tend to look for the vast majority of people out there, (as always the exceptions prove the rule).
At this age people are characterized by their immense stupidity and total ignorance as to how the world works while simultaneously being utterly convinced of their complete brilliance about everything. On top of that the young persons’ libido is out of control which compounds any stupid act by an order of magnitude which is unmeasurable. It is a dangerous time and we all do well to come out of it intact. People at this age typically do not do five minute plans, let alone those lasting for five years.
This decade marks the initial headways into beating down the stupid. As people begin to earn money and see how easily it is frittered away their understanding begins to improve. These are also the party years where a lot of time, effort, and money is spent going out and chasing their hormones.
As long as they haven’t made any truly awful mistakes in their 20s this is where men begin to shine, (women are tapped out by this stage if still single). Stupidity levels continue to fall while most men see a marked rise in their personal financial status.
Stupidity continues to fall and finances continue to increase. However, this is a dangerous time for men who can suffer a mid-life crisis. This will be brought on by the underlying knowledge that they never really proved themselves as a man to themselves. This inner insecurity gives rise to many purchases of convertible red sports cars.
I’ve got no idea – I haven’t got there yet.
So overall if we plotted this stuff on a graph from age 17 we would see two lines. One line would begin at the very top of the graph which would be peak stupidity. As a person ages this gradually begins to fall, (although not in all cases). The other line would begin at the very bottom of the graph. This would be an individual’s net worth and as the graph progresses this would rise. At some point they intersect and from that point onwards a man is living in front of things.
So now to the five year plan, (fyp). The fyp is simply what you want to achieve in the next five years of your life. It is a way of measuring how you are going as well as setting definable goals. The vast majority of people do not do this and they simply bumble through life. Thus, they find things happening to them. A person with a fyp makes things happen for themselves.
Five years ago I left Italy and returned to Australia due to the impact on my businesses there of the GFC. The punitive Italian tax laws helped to finish me off. For my wife and I our fyp was simple:
- Recover financially to a defined minimum net worth.
- Eliminate all debt.
- Re-establish ourselves in Australia, (all items required for living purchased free and clear such as cars, house appliances, etc.)
- My wife wanted to use her MBA and concentrate on a career as a consultant.
- Finish and publish my first book.
All of these objectives were met and on time. We are now working on our next five year plan.
With a fyp you have the benefit of charting clear goals, working towards them, and calculating your success. It is a measurable way of determining how you are going in life. It is also clear when you have failed to meet expectations. In other words, it eliminates the trap of deluding yourself into thinking that you’re getting somewhere when you’re not.
The earlier you begin a five year plan the sooner you begin taking control over your own life direction. Otherwise you’re just bumbling along the river-stream of life.