Prior to ever doing an annual cash flow plan, I wouldn’t have believed how the process intensified intimate connection with my husband, Greg, or how at peace in my heart I would feel. There is a “heart skippity do da” that is experienced, starting the year off with united intentions, an honoring of individual intentions, and being on the same financial page….agreeing on how we desire our year to unfold and how we are going to fund our desires.
I’ve grown to love our January process of planning out our year together and Greg has too. It gives us both a warm fuzzy feeling to have accomplished something that at one time felt impossible.
It wasn’t always this way with us, the planning piece. We used to share our dreams with one another but didn’t do a plan to actually take action on our desires and make them happen. We would say things like, “wouldn’t it be nice to (fill in the blank), and that’s where it ended. This way of living became frustrating and depressing for us. Enough years of lost dreams shifted us into a different more satisfying process that I am sharing with you in this post.
You can modify this process to work for yourself as an individual or with your partner.
We begin with an inquiry that goes like this:
- What’s most important to us this year as a couple? How do we want to do fun this year?
- What’s most important to us individually?
- What experiences or moments are important to our hearts, so much so that we would feel regret if we didn’t make these happen?
- What changes if any will happen with our regular monthly expenses, like the mortgage, healthcare, things of this nature?
- How much do we want to save for retirement this year? How much do we want to give to charity?
- Where oh where will we direct our dollars to go that brings us the most joy, pleasure + is in alignment with our deepest values.
- What are our biggest priorities this year?
- What earnings need to come in for us to create the year we desire? and…if there is a gap between our desires we want to fund and earnings, how do we close that gap?
We reflect, talk, reflect, talk some more, and then we sit and have a pow wow with our spreadsheet on the computer. Over the years the spreadsheet has become the tool in our marriage where we go to create, problem solve and explore possibilities. The spreadsheet houses all the parts of our money life, so we can play with creativity and move our money parts around like pieces of a puzzle, to see what we can make happen.
Each year is different for us. The last two years, we placed a priority on increased visits to the midwest and east coast to see our aging parents (while we look in the mirror and notice our own aging too). We opted to do less bigger vacations and more small retreats. We talked about doing some landscaping vs a new fence vs pavers and opted for the fence.
The process we use as a couple and the visual tool of the spreadsheet is a dynamic dynamite combo that supports us in reaching our goals each year…because it supports us being on the same financial page, united (for the most part) in our desires and dreams. Process + spreadsheet playing = intentions come true. Our dollars become the blood flow that funds our deepest desires and what is most important to us.
For me, this is a process I hold near and dear to my heart to begin our year. I hope this inspires you to create your own annual cash flow plan process and if you need help I am here.