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The Right Game Plan to Achieve Your Financial Goals

The Right Game Plan to Achieve Your Financial Goals

By    |   Wednesday, 29 May 2024 06:11 AM EDT

One of the questions I get asked the most is, “How do I know what to invest in,” and while I appreciate the sentiment here, that is almost always the wrong question.

That’s because without context, any answer is basically meaningless.

The right answer is based on numerous variables, like the state of the economy, your net worth, risk tolerance, goals, tax situation, and so many more. In other words, there are a lot of things you need to know first before you can begin to think about which specific investments are right for you.

Unfortunately, most people approach this from the wrong direction, leading to poor decisions.

I’ve always been a pretty structured kind of person, so rather than winging my decisions, I developed a framework for consistently making intentional decisions that would help me reach my financial goals. I did this because I know how easy it is to slip up and forget the key principles that made us successful in the first place, but also to provide a repeatable system that less experienced investors can use to achieve greater financial freedom more quickly, and do that while avoiding at least some of the common mistakes many investors make. And this is the same decision-making framework I teach in my own mastermind group.

When you approach your decisions from a principle-down perspective, you’ll have a clear understanding of not only the strategies and tactics you’re considering, but also the broader context of the economic environment they’ll be used in—which is critical in making the right decisions.

Use the appropriate filter at the appropriate stage

In my previous career as a dentist, almost no one would have recommended a particular diagnosis and treatment plan without first evaluating the patient and their unique situation, goals, and budget, but in the financial world, that kind of thing happens far too often.

But in the investment world, I hear it every day. “Oh, you need to invest 30% of your income into XYZ.”

Really? Based on what? How does that particular asset fit into their investing goals? Can they cash out quickly in the event of a financial emergency? How does it align with their risk profile? What are the tax implications?

You see, these are just a few of the questions that the average investor may not even know they need to ask before investing. And most “financial advisors” won’t ask either because the answers would likely steer the client to different types of assets that the advisor can’t even sell because they aren’t part of their company’s product line. (I bet you didn't know that most advisors are only allowed to recommend the financial products their company offers!) This leads to an overly simplistic cookie cutter approach to investing that produces suboptimal returns at best, but often, it produces losses—especially when we factor in inflation.

So to adjust for this, we need to break our decision making process down into three distinct buckets to correctly evaluate the different factors that should go into a financial decision.


These are the big picture topics that form the foundation everything else is built on. This might include the industries you choose to get involved in, the principles you stand for, or significant societal or economic change.

For example, you might decide, like I have, that the real estate industry is best for you. Real estate is a concept level topic. It is a tangible or “hard” asset as opposed to Wall Street financial products. So what do you do with this information? You use it to filter out anything that isn’t directly related to real estate in some way, eliminating 99% of the noise disguised as “opportunities.” In the case of principles, maybe you decide that investing in real estate that is considered “essential,” such as affordable housing makes more sense than speculating on the latest ground-up recreational development. You may decide to limit your real estate investments to states which value property rights and contracts versus those states who are weak on enforcing current laws regarding squatters and non-paying tenants.

You also have to look at the other concepts that could affect the outcome of your decisions. This includes economic and political factors, trade agreements, and regulatory changes to an industry, to name just a few.

While this may seem incredibly simple, and to some degree, it is, it is also a game changer because it gives you a clearer perspective of the big picture and clears so much chaos from your investing environment, giving you greater bandwidth for the right opportunities.

It’s important to mention that you need to be conscious of your own biases and blind spots. When you’re deep in the trenches, it’s easy to miss things that someone looking at the situation from a distance would more likely see. Finding a good mentor can help significantly in this area.


This is where we start to evaluate the specific strategies we will use, within the concepts bucket, to produce a return on your investment.

So if we continue with the real estate example, then we will now decide what real estate investing strategies to leverage within the context of the other higher level concepts that guide our decisions.

A few examples of strategies you might consider could include wholesaling, flipping, buy and hold, or new development. Do you need more growth in your estate planning blueprint or is current replacement income of more value because you are preparing to exit your business or practice? 

What you’ll do here is determine which strategy (or strategies) best align with your goals and situation, inside the context of the concepts you chose earlier. In the world of investing, there is a virtually unlimited number of potential strategies you could consider, so be sure to invest enough time to thoroughly evaluate your options.

Some of the factors that may come into play when choosing a strategy might include:

  • Tax implications
  • Return on investment
  • Liquidity
  • Risk levels
  • Timeframe
  • Market cycle
  • Growth vs. income

And as with concepts, once you’ve chosen your investing strategies, you can ignore everything else that isn’t in alignment. But keep in mind that you need to choose carefully because if you need to change direction later, you’ll have to rebuild not only your entire strategy, but also all of the tactics that are built to support that strategy.


While tactics are (or should be) the last level of decisions, this is where most people focus first, which puts them at a huge disadvantage to people who start with concepts, followed by strategies, before finally moving to tactics. That’s because the tactics used to achieve a particular goal may work well within one strategy, but abysmally within another. But don’t get the wrong idea here—tactics are just as important as concepts and strategies. Remember, these filters are less about hierarchy and more about context.

Once you get to this point, you’ll need a certain level of technical skills to execute the tactics you’ve chosen.

For example, you may need to develop the ability to more effectively and accurately conduct due diligence if your strategy is to buy and hold residential properties. If you're planning to use that same strategy for commercial properties, however, you’ll likely also need to develop the ability to analyze the business environment as well, because your potential tenants, business owners, are on the front lines and will be the first to be affected by the market’s ups and downs.

Some examples of skills necessary to successfully execute at the tactical level of decision  making might include:

  • Analyzing individual deals
  • Analyzing the market as a whole
  • Generating leads for dealflow
  • Minimizing purchase price
  • Maximizing sale price
  • Structuring complex deals
  • Evaluating a deal sponsor or operator

The decisions you make here will be about the day-to-day, operational side of planning, analyzing, and executing your investment opportunities.

It’s also important to understand what skills will be needed for your tactics, and then determine first whether you have them or not, and then if you don’t, determine whether it makes more sense to develop them yourself or outsource parts of these tactics to someone who already has the appropriate skillset.

Conclusion: An effective framework leads to better and more consistent financial decisions

Financial freedom requires consistently making effective investing decisions within the context of concepts, strategies, and tactics. The compound effect of creating a plan around well-thought out concepts will exponentially magnify your results over time. This is a hard-fought, but worthwhile battle, and following a proven framework is a surefire way to get it right and not live with the regret of good intentions that never quite worked out.


Dr. David Phelps created Freedom Founders to help its members achieve the freedom they wanted in their lives by building the necessary financial foundation. He is a noted financial expert who is regularly cited by the media, and recently helped the FL Dept. of Education develop its new financial literacy curriculum.

© 2024 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.

One of the questions I get asked the most is, "How do I know what to invest in," and while I appreciate the sentiment here, that is almost always the wrong question.
financial, goal, retirement, investing, strategy
Wednesday, 29 May 2024 06:11 AM
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