Sitting down to map out your financial future is a daunting task. For me, it always felt a bit like doing my taxes, with the difference being that Uncle Sam would come after me if I didn’t do my taxes. As a designer at IDEO, my teammates and I tackled gnarly problems all the time. Breaking them down into smaller pieces always helped us overcome challenges that seemed insurmountable at first. So why not apply that approach to designing a wealth plan? I started to imagine what a bite-sized approach to financial planning might look like.
Learning more about the major topics that most financial planners cover, I broke my planning challenge into three components, each with a concrete set of actions that I could take and questions I’d like to answer. First, I’d reconcile the past, taking stock of all I’d learned from past decisions (or in my case indecision) to get a snapshot of the assets and liabilities those decisions had left me with. Next, I’d figure out how to optimize the present to make sure I wasn’t leaving any money on the table given the options I had available. Finally, I’d envision future possibilities – both positive and negative – to understand what choices I could look forward to and to ensure any potential downside was covered.
The table below summarizes the framework I’m using to build a plan piece by piece. The 'Wealth Blueprint' page is a work-in-progress map that will visualize the outcome of all these topics as I tackle them.