They say the only constant in life is change. But that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. The reality of the situation is that, any change in our lives — big or small, will have an impact on our energy, our mental health, and even our finances.
I used to get so overwhelmed by change that I would freeze. I’d feel stuck. But I don’t want that for you. So I’m sharing one of my favorite tools, called Now, Soon, Later.
As a financial planner, I know that most of the people in my profession only look at the monetary aspects of a client’s life, but there are so many more layers to our financial lives!
As I’ve said many times before, financial planners can’t look at the money without looking at the rest of a person’s life. It’s just not possible! Money and life are inherently entwined, and I believe it does my clients an extreme disservice for me not to examine all the pieces.
So… what does a life transition have to do with financial planning? Let’s break it down.
What is a financial transition?
The idea of a financial transition is a little nebulous. It’s going to mean something completely different for everyone.
The gist is this: We’re almost always going through some sort of a transition. Maybe your child’s in a new grade at school, you’re getting a new job, or even something as extreme as your spouse dying.
That being said, when I’ve worked with my clients through many different types of transitions, I’ve used a specific framework that tends to work well for all of them.
The Now, Soon, and Later transition tool
Transitions are incredibly overwhelming. There’s so much going on at any given moment that for many people, it can feel paralyzing to even think of their finances.
When this happens, I encourage my clients to create a “Now, Soon, and Later” chart. This doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Most often, I tell them to simply pick up a notebook and put it on their bedside table.
The goal is to write down every single thing that’s swirling around their head and put it on that piece of paper. Not super complicated, right?
What this does is take all of the insane, stressful thoughts rushing around your mind and give them a focused place to go. Now, you never have to worry about forgetting things you need to do, because you’ve already written them down!
Categorize your list
The frequency of how often you’ll categorize will depend on how much you have on your lists, and how much you’re consistently writing. But whether you do this once a day, once a week, or once an hour, the process is the same.
Take each item on your list and put it into a category of: now, soon, or later.
The “now” items are the things you HAVE to get done, or there’ll be some sort of harm caused in your life. Maybe you’ll lose your job, or have to pay a fine, anything like that. Only items with immediate consequences should be in this category.
Then, using this same principle, create your “soon” and “later” categories. The things under “soon” won’t cause you immediate harm if they aren’t done within the next day or week, but they do need to get done soon (maybe in the next month), for your finances to be healthy.
Lastly, you have the later category of items you can get done on a more leisurely schedule.
This tool isn’t a fix-all for any problems you might be having. But what it does is give you a focused place to put your energy, and allows you to break the overwhelm of a transition down into manageable steps.
Before I sign off, I want to leave you with this: you don’t have to do anything on your now, soon, and later list alone. Whether you enlist the help of a friend or hire a professional financial planner, there is always a place for you to turn to.
If you’re thinking, “Hannah, I need a little more help than just this tool!” I totally understand. I would love to help you craft a holistic financial plan that breaks through the overwhelm and sees you through any life transition you might be experiencing.