Planning Can Work When It Is Directionally Accurate

We all know you cannot save a million dollars in a week.

Saving all the money you need for financial independence is not an event. The only choice is to create a process for things that can work but cannot be an event. If a process works, it must aim at the right targets and use the right resources in the proper proportions.

Recall the wagon trains.

Heading from Pennsylvania to Oregon could not be an event. There were too many variables and a long time to accomplish the goal. For many, the goal changed. Some found a place they liked on the way. Few came back to Pennsylvania to share their experience, so almost everyone was an amateur at travelling to Oregon.

Directionally accurate was relatively easy. Every morning when you set out for the day’s travel, put the sun at your back. That’s direction, but it won’t get you there.

In financial planning for future independence, saving is the equivalent of putting the sun at your back. If you don’t do it, you will wander and that dramatically limits the chances of success.

What happens on the way matters too

As in golf, local knowledge is valuable. As the pioneers headed west, they were forced to make decisions that could not be determined in advance. Some might need additional supplies or maybe a horse or a wagon wheel. Others might need medicine or medical attention. Resources existed along the way, and people used those to make their journey easier.

One resource that people overlook is the value of a guide. Guides could help them avoid a river running higher than usual or help them find an alternative route when weather conditions are required. In prospect, almost every financial plan is a straight line and a tangled maze when viewed afterwards.

Find the people who can guide you through the local maze as they come along. No one knows everything they need to know in every possible circumstance. It could be a financial advisor, a lawyer, an accountant, a friend, or a partner. Be alert.

Aside from using saving as a directional guide, build a network. Most of us have problems thinking in new situations, and a network of people resources can help us overcome unforeseen things in our financial journey.

Motivation will be challenging.

Any complex plan lasting a long time is hard to implement and carry off. Directional accuracy helps with that because it is simple. It allows you to move ahead, a day at a time, even when the situation is unfamiliar and frightening. Sometimes that is enough to reach the end in good shape.

The bits to take away

Absent a win in a major lottery, events don’t provide financial independence. The odds of being killed by a cow are substantially better than winning a big-prize lottery. Do you even know of someone who was killed by a cow?

Use game theory. Put a process in place that is aimed at your financial independence target. Then buy a lottery ticket for fun. Someone will win. Even though the odds of winning show as zero until you have 8-decimal accuracy on your calculator, someone wins. It could be you. Just don’t count on it.

Think process. Think direction. Attach resources, including guides.

I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals. In the past, I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software startup, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning. I have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Banks – from CIBC to the Federal Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at

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