Creating an investment plan can be as easy as planning a ‘baecation’ or a wedding. Here’s how.

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  • The idea of an investment plan can sound daunting and scary.
  • But, if you think of conquering it the same way people think about planning a vacation or wedding, it can be easier to deal with.
  • Here are a few ways you can make an investment plan that can support you for years to come.
  • This article is a contributed piece as part of a series focused on millennial financial empowerment called Master your Money.

I often hear millennials talking about spending time, energy, and money on planning vacations and weddings, but very little (if any) time on their investment plans.

An investment plan determines how one allocates their investments – stocks, bonds, cash, and other assets – into an overall portfolio that matches the investors’ goals, time horizon, risk tolerance, and priorities.

Creating this kind of plan isn’t much different from planning for a big vacation.

To start, in both cases you need to do your homework to determine where you want to go and how you will get there. Just as you wouldn’t show up at the airport and decide where to go, you should research the destination and plan how to get there.

Investment plans are no different.

Know the steps needed

The first step is to determine a goal (destination). Once that’s decided, it’s time to think about how to reach that goal, but most importantly, on time. When thinking about achieving those investment goals, diversification of investments is important because you will rely on different investments, at different times, and for different purposes, to help you achieve your goal.

You can think of this as all the modes of transportation that would be used to get to the destination.

The earlier I start planning, typically the better the outcome (or trip) I’ll have, and often at a better price point.

Time is your friend in reaching your goals. Goals must be achievable within a realistic time period, and the more time you give yourself, the loftier goals you can set.

Think about a plan B, C, and D

You can and should expect to hit bumps in the road along the way, and with that in mind, you’ll need a contingency plan.

Sticking with the vacation analogy, I often get delayed or rerouted when I travel and end up somewhere I never intended to go. Even with great investment planning, unforeseeable events like market shocks (think of a thunderstorm grounding all flights) can happen that will throw a plan off course (delayed arrival).

But, don’t get frustrated! When this happens, I adapt and adjust my plan and work as hard as I can to get back on track. I might have to sacrifice a little by saving more money (say, missing your first night at the hotel), but I move forward. When my outbound flight for vacation gets delayed, I don’t give up and cancel the whole trip.

It may be worth it to pay for help and guidance

Focusing on cost is very important, but sometimes some extra money spent is well worth it. Although investment plans and portfolios can be built incredibly inexpensively, when the plan is big enough, I have hired professionals such as accountants, lawyers, or money managers to help navigate an area with which I am unfamiliar. You can think of these folks as a travel agent. In the end, their counsel has saved me both money and headache in making the plan a success.

If it’s important that a one or two week vacation goes well and you are willing to spend time planning the trip, there’s no excuse not to spend time planning your investment portfolio. If done properly, the portfolio can help support you for years – as opposed to just a week or two of fun.

This article was contributed by Scott Pedvis, a financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors, and a member of BI’s Money Council.