It’s not too late to set up new financial goals for this year. Maybe you did set up your goals at the beginning of this year but didn’t include your finances. We all typically make goals to lose weight, learn a new language, and read more books.
Why don’t we ever aspire to improve our finances? Maybe that’s why most people stay financially unstable year after year.
The first financial goal that I had to achieve was to be retired by the age of 35. I made it my life’s mission to free myself from financial burden before I hit the big 3-5. Ok, so I’m nearing 40 and I’m not retired. But we now have no house debt or car debt and we have multiple income streams. I’ve also decided that I most likely won’t retire since I look forward to starting and working on new projects, but that’s for another post. As I begin to get a bit more financial freedom, it became clear to me how vital it is to set financial goals.
Why? When you dedicate time to layout your dreams and action plans, the higher your chances of accomplishing your goals. First of all, you know what you want, and you know what to do to get it. I’d say that’s way better than floating around taking life’s punches as they come without actual preparation.
You can’t simply say you want to be rich and call it a day. You have to make plans and strategies to turn your goals into reality.
I know that finances are an overwhelming and uncomfortable topic for most. So in this post, I’ll give you some simple financial goals that you can work on this year. I’ll also share how I achieved these goals because I was right where you are right now. But before all that, let’s get into what precisely financial goals are.
What are financial goals?
Financial goals are things that you accomplish regarding money. It can be anything from getting out of debt to investing in stocks. Financial goals have all to do with how you want to handle your money and perhaps make more of it.
Financial goals are much like any other goal. Goals determine how you act in given situations and how you make moves in life? Why? Goals provide you with direction. When you want to achieve something, ideally, you’ll do what you can to make it happen.
As you grow older, the realization that money buys you freedom will hit you like a truck. At least that’s how it happened for me. The other goals I wanted to accomplish depending on how much financial freedom I had. I knew that the more money I had, the freer I am to do other things that I set my heart to.
To make life a little easier, I categorized financial goals in three ways. There’s the short-term, mid-term, and long-term.
You want to accomplish short-term goals within 12 months. So these goals are easily attainable, like setting aside savings every month. Mid-term goals are meant to be completed within 1-3 years. In comparison, long-term goals are things that will take more than three years to accomplish.
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What’s the purpose of setting financial goals?
Setting financial goals will make you mindful of cash flow. These goals will be your guide on how to handle the money you have and the money you’ll make.
Let’s say you want to tuck away $1,000 every month into your savings account. Because of this goal, you’re much less likely to blow that extra $1,000 on things that you don’t need. In a big way, it alters your behavior in a positive way.
Another reason for setting financial goals is you don’t want to leave your finances to chance. A stable future requires planning. Especially if you were born under less fortunate circumstances, you can’t expect things to improve on your own.
15 Financial Goals You Can Set For The Year
If you don’t know where to begin, the following are perfect for those who are new to setting financial goals.
1. Start saving money.
Life has a way of throwing us punches, so we’d better be ready for them. Saving up for emergencies is one of the things you should prioritize right now if you’ve never thought of your finances before. If you have funds set aside for emergency situations, it will make it easier to breathe and will spare you some complex financial crises.
As a rule, your emergency fund should cover not only the cost of a sudden emergency but also your expenses if your income stream comes to a halt. Many financial experts say that you should be able to subsist on your savings alone for at least 3-6 months, not accounting for emergencies.
Yes, it seems like a daunting task now, but saving money here and there will add up! In the beginning, tell yourself that a bit of saving is better than nothing. When you become more financially capable, your savings account will fund itself, and you won’t even feel it.
2. Make a financial plan.
Making a financial plan is something that’s not reserved for rich people with financial advisers. Someone with a 0 net worth needs a financial plan just as much as someone with a 1M net worth. A financial plan is a document that will lay out everything you need to do to accomplish your financial goals.
What’s in a financial plan? A financial plan takes everything in your life into account. So your marital status, whether you have kids or not, career goals, hurdles, and much more will be included in your financial plan. The more thorough you make it, the more comprehensive your guide will be for accomplishing your financial goals.
And no, you don’t need a financial advisor to set up a plan, nor do you need a fancy app. All you need is a pen and a piece of paper, and you’re ready to come up with a financial plan on your own. First, think about where you want to be in the future. What do you want your life to be like in X years?
Mapping out these dreams and detailing how you’re going to realize them is the most vital tool you can create for yourself.
3. Pay off your debts.
Paying off everything you owe is one of the best things you can do for your heart and mind. When I paid off the last of my debts, a wave of relief passed through my body, and I felt free for the first time in the longest time. Being debt-free opens up a lot of options for you, so make it a goal to eliminate these financial obligations as soon as possible.
Pay off your student loans, credit card debts, medical bills, mortgages, and car loans. There are various tools out there that can aid you as you free yourself from financial burden. Try Undebt.it, an app that allows you create a repayment plan to map out your strategy.
4. Create a budget and stick to it.
The best way to handle your daily finances is with a budget. Creating and sticking to a budget will give you a clear guide on what you can and can’t spend money on. When you think of a budget, the idea might seem limiting to you. However, by changing your mindset, it could be the complete opposite.
A budget is a tool, not a cage. It simply helps you keep track of your spending. Let’s say you think you’re horrible at sticking to a budget. Here are a few budgeting tools that will help you stay on track.
You can fill out spreadsheets on your computer, phone, or tablet, and it will all sync. This way, you can manage your money anywhere, and you never have to worry about losing your budget list.
You’re more likely to keep track of things if you put them to paper. Printables are like spreadsheets but more tangible, of course. Having to grab a pen to plan and update your finances will make the act more like a practice.
You can use cash envelopes to separate the different items for your budget. Let’s say it’s payday and have all the cash you can spend in the next month. By separating funds for bills, food, shopping, etc., it’s hard to go over your limit. You can also use cash enveloped digitally using your debit card whenever you pay for something.
I recommend that you review your budget at the end of each week, so you keep track of your finances. Sticking to a budget has saved me from financial troubles since I first started because I know not to go over the amounts I have allotted for everything that I have to pay for.
5. Start investing.
Investing is one way you can passively accumulate money. It’s a tool people use to grow the money that they have. Whether it’s in the stock market or real estate, it’s best if you invest money so you can technically earn money as you sleep.
Building your savings to invest should be one of your financial targets. Please don’t be intimidated by investing. It’s really not all that complex, and it won’t take long for you to get started. In fact, I challenge you to open up an account with Robinhood (with that referral link you’ll get one free stock) to get an understanding of the stock market.
I recommend that you start investing only if you have enough dispensable income to do so. I also would get rid of all my debt before I think about investing. You never want to jeopardize your current lifestyle and obligations by thinking too far ahead.
6. Start saving for your retirement.
Thinking about the future sooner than later is best for everybody. To secure your future, you’ll need to put money together and build up your savings. One of your priorities should be to start contributing to your employer-sponsored 401(l) or an IRA account if you haven’t done so already.
The earlier you begin thinking and preparing for retirement, the more money you’ll have in the future. I’d consider using a retirement calculator if you’re not sure how much money you’ll need for retirement. This will remind you how much you should be saving depending on when you want to retire.
7. Start a side hustle.
Your financial goals shouldn’t be limited to saving or investing. It would help if you also made it a priority to make more profits as well. You can do so by starting a side business.
Because of the internet, side hustles are much more doable for us than past generations who had to take traditional part-time work. You can launch a business from the convenience of your own home.
For example, this blog is just one of my many side hustles. If you’re having trouble thinking of what you can do to supplement your current income, I suggest you take a look at your skillset. If you’re a whiz at marketing, you may want to sell digital products.
8. Buy property or save for a downpayment.
Buying your own house is a massive financial milestone. It’s also another way to ensure your wealth in the long run. Most properties’ values increase over time, so your net worth should increase just as much.
Of course, buying a house also has many implications. It’s where you start a family, make memories, and build a legacy. If you can’t afford to lay down money for a home just yet, start saving for a downpayment as soon as possible.
9. Optimize your current income.
Whatever you’re getting paid now could always be better. Let’s say your current income comes from a 9-5 job. You could increase your income simply by asking for a raise. Some people are often afraid to bring up salary increases because they feel like it’s undeserved.
Well, give yourself credit and don’t stand in the way of making more money for yourself. As long as you know you’re contributing significantly to your company, it doesn’t hurt if you ask to be compensated better. Your superiors will also learn how much you know your worth.
10. Improve your net worth.
What is your net worth anyway? It’s the difference between what you own and what you owe. The wealthier you become, the more chances you increase your net worth, provided that you’re burying yourself in debt.
Increase your net worth by attaining more assets. Your current goal doesn’t have to be to buy a house or a car. You can start by setting your target net worth. You can work towards your goal by eliminating all your debt first. Rid your life of liabilities to establish a positive net worth in the beginning.
11. Open up a business.
The saying “don’t have all your eggs in one basket” holds true for me. Don’t rely on one source of income and be content. I want to establish as many revenue streams as possible, and you should try to do the same thing.
You may not be cut out for entrepreneurship, but everyone can start a side hustle that brings in extra cash. By owning a business, you get a supplementary income. Plus, you get tax exemptions that you can’t have as a regular employee!
So even if it takes a significant amount of time, turning your side hustles into full-blown businesses is something genuinely worthwhile. Opening a business isn’t rocket science. You can start by setting up a virtual store on Etsy or Shopify. If you have a skill that produces merchandise, make sure you monetize your time and output.
12. Automate your finances.
When you’re struggling with money, automating your finances is ridiculous. To automatically take bill payments out of your bank account is unrealistic for someone who doesn’t plan ahead. Be someone who does plan ahead, someone who won’t worry every time bills come around.
This is the year when you strive to put all your payments on autopilot. You can even automate your investing. By making these payments automatic, you don’t have to worry about deadlines. Your focus will be entirely on saving more money.
A good time to automate your finances is when you’re ahead of bills. You don’t really need to trouble yourself with amounts and dates as long as you keep bringing in the money.
13. Travel responsibly.
Many people go on trips solely for the Gram. They don’t care if traveling puts them in debt. Online, they have this facade of wealth and fun. In reality, they can’t really afford all the trips they’re taking. If one of your life’s goals is to travel the world, you can do it responsibly.
Open up a savings fund solely for the purpose of traveling. Make a plan to get out of your vacation richer in experience and not buried in debt. The whole purpose of sinking funds is you’re going to spend all that money on something, in this case, vacations.
Remember, the best kind of trip you can take is one that won’t leave you with debt. This way, you don’t come to a stress-fest after your leisure time.
14. Invest in your financial education.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to invest in self-improvement. You don’t have to pay for self-improvement all the time, but sometimes it helps. Your finances are one of the most vital aspects of your life, so it needs a lot of dedication.
As I said, you don’t need to hire a financial advisor or pay for expensive classes. You can educate yourself by reading books about personal finance. The point of enriching your knowledge is to make better financial decisions in the future.
15. Ensure your child’s financial future.
If you have a kid or want to have kids in the future, one of your most significant contributions is to ensure your child’s financial future. If you’re the type of parent who wants to help out as much as possible, then saving is critical.
By saving, you can pay for your kid’s college, home, or business, whatever they need to get a headstart. You can start a savings account for your kid before they’re even born. You can also open a 529 or ESA account to finance their education. A few hundred bucks here and there will go a long way in the future.
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How do you set financial goals?
As I said before, financial goals are much like any other goal in that they have to be SMART. By SMART, I mean specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. You have to make sure that all your smaller goals meet these criteria.
To be SMART with your goals means you have to pay attention to the small details. For example, let’s say your number one goal is to pay off your student loans. Instead of saying, “I want to be free of my student loans,” say, “I will pay off my $60,000 student loan in three years.” See how I made that specific, time-bound, measurable, realistic, and attainable?
Tips on How To Achieve Your Financial Goals
Once you choose a few financial goals for yourself, here are the steps you need to take to accomplish them.
1. Write, write, write.
When you write down your goals, it’s easier for you to visualize them, meaning they’re far more likely to be accomplished. So take your time and write your goals out. If you’re the creative type, build a whole vision board.
When you can literally see your goals at all times, it helps you stay focused. Have them at your desk or somewhere you see all the time, like your fridge.
2. Break larger goals into smaller ones.
Larger goals tend to be overwhelming, and in effect, unattainable. Make your goals more manageable by breaking them down into smaller goals that are easier to accomplish. When you’re making good progress, it’s going to be encouraging to go further.
How do you break down your goals? Make daily, weekly, and small monthly goals that correspond to bigger ones.
3. Track your progress.
There are some goals that you can accomplish in minutes, some in years. Keep track of your progress by using a visual tracker with your goals. It’ll also be encouraging to see how far you’ve come and to check yourself when you’re getting off track.
4. Be accountable.
You can hold yourself accountable or have someone support you as you accomplish your goals. Sometimes you feel like giving up, and you don’t want to keep working towards your goals anymore. In these times, you or your partner could encourage you to keep going and stick to your financial plan.
Money somewhat dictates how well you can live. Yes, things like love and friendship are free, but everything else comes at a cost. A massive life goal like getting married doesn’t end with falling in love. You need money for the ceremony, your house, your kids, and your retirement. Hopefully, the financial goals I listed above can help you get started on your healthy financial journey.