I don’t plan, I prepare (and you should do the same)


Disclosure: This article is not intended to be financial advice and information should be taken as educational only. Read the disclaimer.

Wind your minds back a decade or so ago to that old anti-terrorism ad the federal government had airing on TV. 

Remember the tagline? (here's the link in case you need some help)

Be alert, but not alarmed.

This statement has stuck with me over the years and It's become something that I have in mind when I take care of the family finances.

For me though, I've evolved the phrase and turned it into something more applicable to money.

Be prepared, but don’t plan.

I’ll explain.

If 2020 has told us anything, it’s that planning long term is nigh on impossible.

For us I know things like visiting family, taking holidays, working regularly, or even leaving your house have become kind of luxuries.

This year has all changed the way I look at making plans. I don't know about you but my wife and I always talk about where we'll be. Now, in 5 years, 10 years, when we retire. We try to make decisions on our future, like where we'll live, work, holiday, etc. 

But it's hard. Mainly because we change our minds every week, but also because planning out too much of your future isn't even necessary.

Thinking about all this I'm now challenging myself to look at long term planning differently. Well not just differently, but not at all. 


Because we can't predict the future and things change every day.

So for us, it will be:

  • Make plans short-term
  • Be prepared for the long term

I’ve found that planning the future only sends me down a narrow path when I know the best of me doesn’t want to stick to the confines of it.

Think of it this way. What are you doing right now that you planned for five years ago? Ten?

In 2016 my wife and I decided that in 2020 we would quit our jobs and travel around Aus. Between then and now we moved cities, had another baby, my wife changed careers and I’m working on multiple part-time jobs.  

Start to enjoy surprise and spontaneity.

We planned for one thing and took the opportunity of others. The thing that helped us do all this was our preparation. 

I think preparation wins over planning.

It means when opportunities come up, you can take them.

  • We aren’t planning to buy a house anytime soon but we are preparing to with our regular saving and investing.
  • We know our kids will be in school in the years ahead. We don’t know where or what place, but we are prepared for the costs involved. 
  • We are preparing to travel overseas every four years, even without knowing where or what exact dates.

There are many things we want and are prepared to do, we just haven’t planned for them.

Setting a timeframe might be a great way to help with getting tasks or jobs done, but when it comes to living a rich life I’m happy to embrace the change and look for opportunities. 

What about you? What have you planned for in 5 years + time? Also, what did you plan for years ago that you are currently doing?

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Tim Ellis, creator of DadInvestor.com.au, helps people confidently invest and manage their money. Inspired by his own experiences, Tim is passionate about creating a financially secure future for his family and sharing his personal finance knowledge with others.

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