Achieving Financial Independence: Goals-Based Planning
Achieving financial independence starts with a dispassionate, objective census of all resources, assets, opportunities, risks, and liabilities. The key to this exercise is the personal definition of one’s own goals, such as housing security, education, and retirement. Asset accumulation is relegated to a utilitarian role, as a marker of progress. Key assumptions must be made regarding: future income sources; future expenses; liabilities; inflation of expenses; and growth of investments. An actionable financial plan should be memorialized in writing and should be accompanied by supporting documents, including a balance sheet, stock-plan schedules, and a cash-flow plan. Monte Carlo analysis can offer a stress test on a straight-line cash-flow plan, but persistent monitoring and review are necessary to ensure that progress toward financial independence is not derailed.