Want to Achieve Your (Financial) Dreams?

You don’t need a lot to get started.


Take a minute to envision some of your biggest hopes and dreams. Maybe you hope to pay off your student loans, own your own home, and even retire in style. Now, think about what it would take to realize those dreams. If you’re not quite sure, you’re not alone.

For starters, no two people are alike, meaning there’s no one “right” way to work toward your goals. Plus, when your goal is especially ambitious—such as saving for the down payment on a new home—figuring out how to save and invest enough while still making ends meet can feel daunting.

The good news? Financial planning can help. Whether you like to plan everything to the last detail or just want a high-level roadmap to help you reach your goals, research has shown that having a written financial plan—and sticking with it—helps planners achieve three times as much wealth as non-planners (see “Planning for success,” below).

“A financial plan doesn’t have to be rigid or complex—and it certainly doesn’t depend on how much money you have,” says Rob Williams, vice president of financial planning at the Schwab Center for Financial Research. “It’s all about nailing down your goals and determining what steps you can take to get there.”

Planning for success

In a study of Americans over 50, those who had a financial plan and stuck with it exceeded all others in terms of average total net worth.

People who have a financial plan can generate up to three times more wealth.
Source: Annamaria Lusardi and Olivia S. Mitchell, “Financial Literacy and Planning: Implications for Retirement Wellbeing,” National Bureau of Economic Research, 05/2011. Original data was based on 1,269 observations and came from a special retirement planning module for the 2004 Health and Retirement Study targeting Americans over the age of 50.

What makes planning so powerful? Simply put, it helps you:

  1. Identify what’s important: Listing your goals can help you to recognize what’s most consequential to you and your family.
  2. Set priorities: Not all goals are created equal, and a plan can help you to prioritize your savings when confronting multiple objectives.
  3. Gain confidence: Having a written financial plan can help you feel financially stable and more confident in reaching your goals.*
  4. Stay focused: A carefully considered plan gives you something solid to work toward, which can help you to look past the ups and downs of daily life.
  5. Go further: After setting goals and getting invested, it's likely that other life events may arise. With a financial plan firmly in place, you can reevaluate your goals and expand your plan over time. 

Bottom line

Creating a solid financial plan can help you steadily build wealth—and the best way to start planning is by turning your dreams into concrete financial goals.

*2019 Modern Wealth Survey

  • How to Set Effective Financial Goals

    A successful financial plan begins with identifying realistic, actionable goals.