We had a plan- go to school, get good grades, get a good job, find the love of your life (or not), get married, buy a house, have kids. And so forth. This is the course that most of us expected our lives to follow. It’s what our parents drilled into us.
Why wouldn’t we follow it? It makes sense on paper.
The reality is that we’re not a generation that follows the expected path, we tend to create our own rules. We do things that make sense to us right now, and we’re happy to find things that fulfill us- whether that’s starting our own businesses, taking time off to travel, risking it all and working for a startup, or inventing careers in sectors that didn’t even exist a few years ago.
We, also, do things out of order.
Who says that we have to get married to buy a house? I didn’t. I bought a house, quit my high paying job, and started my own company. Then I moved to Europe for 7 months and created a life that works for me.
And it’s not just me on this path. Take a look online and you’ll see tons of people changing the narrative of what our life plan is supposed to look like.
In fact, a recent TD survey found nearly six in 10 (58 per cent) Canadians have completed or are on track to complete their life’s milestones in a different order than they originally expected.
The generation nipping at our heels? They are doing it faster than us at a 64%. No wonder I get emotional watching my siblings take on the world with such passion.
WE CAN DO WHAT WE WANT
While the order of life’s milestones may vary, thinking ahead about your goals and putting a financial plan in place can help manage the financial impact of these significant life moments, whenever they occur.
The beauty of living in our time is that we LITERALLY have the ability to do anything that we want to do in any order that we want to do it in. BUT, we also have to be smart about our future.
And believe it or not, almost all of our big life choices require planning and saving, and regardless of our age, it’s never too early to build a financial plan and set goals for our future. Things like a home, cars, retirement, and children all cost money.
KIDS COST MONEY
I know, I know- SHOCKER. We don’t want to think about how much money it’s going to cost to have a child because children are a gift, and all that stuff.
However, when you think about how much money our parents spent on us- everything from school, to sports, to arts and everything in between, we cost them A LOT. And jumping into having a family without figuring our finances is just not the best idea.
According to a recent TD survey only 4 in 10 Canadians say they have properly budgeted or are properly budgeting for having their first child (39 per cent) and for retirement (41 per cent); and millennials (28 per cent) are less likely than Gen X Canadians (42 per cent) to say they have properly budgeted or are properly budgeting for having their first child.
That means that we, the generation that thinks about being financially free as soon as possible, aren’t planning out the cost of something that we’re going to be responsible for- for the next 18 years.
If you’re at a point in your life where you’re looking to make big choices, it is important to ask yourself some key questions and then meet with a financial planner to map out a plan that is unique to your situation and aspirations.
- How do I handle multiple milestones occurring at the same time?
- Is it smarter to plan a wedding or buy a home first?
- What costs should I factor in when contemplating buying a home?
- How much do I need to save to comfortably enjoy a parental leave?
- How do I know if I’m on track to save enough for retirement?
RETIREMENT? WHAT’S THAT?
Let’s face it- we don’t like thinking super long term. Debt is a common part of our lives, and living within our means is not something that we want to do when our lives are lived on Instagram, and on FB. But, the sad reality is that unless we think about our futures with a plan, we’re not going to be able to do the things that excite us, and make us want to get out of bed in the morning.
Money is just one part of that solution, and one that needs to be taken a lot more seriously. It breaks my heart when I have conversations with friends about financial planning and they look at me like I’m the weird one. It’s no wonder that only one-quarter (24 per cent) of Millennials and one-third (33 per cent) of Gen X Canadians say they have properly budgeted or are properly budgeting for retirement or even something like a child, or the unexpected costs of a buying home and the fun joys of maintenance after.
It’s funny- working away in Asia and Europe this year, has thought so much about how far you can stretch your money. I met people who value the experiences so much more than having a house, but even they had a plan for their future.
Just because we have the freedom to do what we want to do, doesn’t mean that we need to neglect our future selves.
I, for one, don’t want to work when I’m 45. The villa in Greece, and the riad in Morroco are calling my name.
This post is in partnership with TD Canada Trust.