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Why plan the puzzle?

by Money Puzzle   ·  April 2, 2019   ·  

Why plan the puzzle?

by Money Puzzle   ·  April 2, 2019   ·  

Ever since I can remember, I have revelled in any opportunity to put together a jigsaw puzzle. My hardest ever was a 3000 piece puzzle; a picture of white horses running along with ocean waves. For the most part it was in shades of blue and green. The shades were so similar that the tiny pieces were hard to distinguish and even harder to place in the right spot. Clearly, this is a task that can’t be approached in a random, sporadic manner. It was a must to plan the puzzle. Planning helps the mind focus rather towards successfully building the beautiful puzzle in a reasonable time.

But what does this have to do with your money?

In the present the temptation to spend will always be higher than the wisdom to save

There are many milestones in one’s life, your first job, first love, first heart break, first car, the house you want to make a home, the wedding day that was perfect, couples bungee jump on your honeymoon, your daughter’s first smile, her first word, parent’s 50th wedding anniversary and so on. Barring the joy wrapped in your daughter’s smile and her first word, the constant in all these times is going to be money. Money spent buying gifts to woo your sweetheart, the Michael Kor handbag you love, money spent decorating your home, the flight tickets to Singapore, you get the drift.

Think of all the big and small milestones in your life as a perfect collage, stuck together smoothly with financial stability. Financial stability gives you the freedom to appreciate what’s most important in life – your time with friends and family. To weave this smoothly into your life’s collage you must plan. Not too much, but regularly and sooner rather than later.

In our twenties usually, we don’t think of planning so seriously, we are busy enjoying life. But there comes a time when you would like to see your money and your bank balance growing. Perhaps when you have a family that’s dependent on you or maybe when you realise that you can’t afford the car you always dreamt of or when you accompany your elderly parents to the hospital and realise that expenses will mount up even when you stop earning.

So, your money can do a lot, but, wait a minute, you will want to keep spending too. The task then is to make your money achieve effectiveness at both, being spent and being saved. That’s what financial planning will help you do. Just like the puzzle, it can’t be approached in a random, sporadic manner because in the present the temptation to spend will always be higher than the wisdom to save.

I’m going to let you in on my secret – how I plan a puzzle. The initial stages are the hardest and require the most mundane kind of patient energy that you possess. Step one is to separate out the outline pieces from the middle pieces. There are four corner pieces which will have at least two smooth sides and the rest of the outline pieces will have at least one smooth side. These pieces are fewer in number and easy to spot. Step two is to put together into smaller lots pieces that look similar or have a similar shade on them. Now this takes a lot of time. You must physically turn each piece and check. Some pictures with very distinct subject matter are easier to do, but with my horses and ocean frame this was not the case.

Setting out your money plan too is not going to be an easy task. The first step of course is to determine what makes your plan’s outline solid. A good regular saving habit perhaps? There will be some obvious, easy spends that you can cut back on. Each time your friend calls you out for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, you can potentially be down Rs 500-1000. This happens easily 3-5 times a month and soon you will find your savings outline dented. The initial planning stage will be a harsh look in the mirror to see the black spots of over spending, but once you build the saving discipline into your plan, things will work smoothly. Plan to save before you spend and put a number on the amount you save, don’t leave it to chance.  Just like having an erratic sleep or eating schedule can mess with your health, an erratic savings schedule will mess up your money’s health.

You don’t have to start planning for the end of your money flow aka retirement just yet. To begin with simple focus on building a financial plan ensures a regular and systematic approach.   

There will be months where you are unable to achieve your planned money targets. If those months are frequent, then it’s a sign to realign your plan to a more achievable target. The most important part is to keep at it. I found that it was easier to allocate a fixed time every day that I would spend on the puzzle, uninterrupted. All planning needs focus. In the end, I have never been disappointed with the outcome and the sense of achievement at seeing a beautiful picture coming to life with hundreds of tiny pieces being put together is incomparable.

That is the magic of a good plan, it helps you achieve results most accurately.  You can build on the plan and shift gears as you move along but putting one in place first is what will make the journey smooth, simple and stable.

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