I always thought that talking about financial planning would be a total conversation killer – especially around my fashion-obsessed, art-loving friends. Turns out, it’s quite the opposite, because we’re always talking about our life goals and dreams. From travel to home décor, none of our passions will be realized without a financial plan.

Photo by Tara West

My recent posts about my collaboration with Scotia Wealth Management’s Enriched Thinking program got the conversation started. And I discovered that while we have different approaches to money – my friends range from self-employed artists to corporate executives – we all know that a financial plan equals the freedom to do what we want, when we want – either with a partner, friends or solo. And we know how important it is to look at every aspect of our life not just our career or investment portfolio, but also our home, travel plans, wardrobes and just having fun.

Sounds good, right? But the surprising part is that while most of my friends have invested money, they don’t have a clue how their plan impacts every part of their life. Here are five tips that I’ve learned along the way:

Ready, Set, Goal!  What do you really want to do with your life? Not just in retirement but now, next month, later this year? Neglecting to set goals is like driving in the dark. For me, I want to travel to Portugal next spring and then buy a new home by next summer. I want to afford all of that without losing focus on my retirement goals.

Makeup by Lace Maralit

The Dreaded Budget  I’d rather unpack and decorate my apartment than draw up a budget. Truth be told, I still haven’t done it … but it’s top of my list this fall. It’s too easy for me to buy another pair of shoes when I should be maximizing the money set aside for my security net and other goals. 

Set up the Net  An emergency fund is essential. I was so glad that I had saved up a year of living expenses when I took time off work last year. And while I don’t plan to do that again any time soon, I know that I need to be prepared for whatever comes my way.

Empower Yourself  Taking control over your finances is empowering. Understanding how much money I have, and how much more I need to save, has been a huge relief. I used to joke that I would be wearing fabulous shoes but eating cat food at the age of 90. Not so funny – it hid my anxiety of being able to take care of myself.

Coat, Dries van Noten. Top, Judith & Charles. Trousers, Lafayette. Handbag, Gucci. Shoes, Chloe.

Find a Financial Partner  While I’d love to have someone to split my bills with, what is really important is a great connection with a financial advisor. I need someone who will listen to my ideas and then draw up a realistic plan that will touch on everything in my life. I’m not going to stop buying shoes or going out for dinner, but I need someone to remind me of my most important goals – home and travel. I’m continuing to partner with Scotia Wealth Management’s Enriched Thinking program –it checks off all of the key elements of my best life plan.