How to Set (and Achieve!) Your Financial Goals This Year
The Key to Tackling Your Goals Lies in a Clear Vision and a Strong Plan| By: Randall E. White, CFP®, RICP®, CRPC®, CMFC®
If there’s one thing most of us have in common, it’s the experience of saving money incrementally for something that seems out of reach. Whether you’re a teenager saving up for a car, a college student saving up for a degree, or an adult saving up for a down payment on your dream home, you’re probably intimately familiar with what it feels like to have to put money aside to achieve a financial goal. You probably also know how challenging it can be to stay disciplined and motivated to reach the savings threshold you desire.
In order to successfully save enough to finance your long-term dreams, it can help to set specific financial goals. What is it, exactly, that you want to achieve? How long will it take you? What are the particular steps you need to take in order to be successful? Questions like these can help ensure that you’re on the right track – and that you stay on it.
When it comes to goal setting, the new year always provides the perfect opportunity to take stock of where you are, what you want, and how to go about getting it. In light of the new year, here are a few tips and guidelines to help you set and achieve your financial goals – no matter how big or small.
Setting Your Financial Goals
As with any goal that you set, the best way to ensure that it becomes a reality is to sit down and make a plan for how you intend to achieve that goal. It’s about being intentional with your actions and then applying the discipline to follow through on your plans. While different strategies will work for different people, these basic guidelines can help:
- Prioritize your goals. Chances are there are a lot of things that you want to accomplish with your life, but what are the most important? Write down everything – from the most practical, like buying a house or saving for retirement, to the most whimsical, like going on that European vacation or buying that fancy car.
- Sort your goals into reasonable timelines. With your goals all laid out in front of you, determine what is in reach, what might take some time, and what will need a long-term strategy to accomplish.
- Be S.M.A.R.T. with your planning. As you make plans for your financial goals, be sure that you’re being S.M.A.R.T. with your strategy. That is, make sure your steps are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
- Set a budget. If your plan is the roadmap to a financial goal, your budget is the vehicle that guides you through that plan. Take stock of all your money coming in and going out, and then create a realistic budget that accounts for the financial goals you’re saving for. This may require you to sacrifice certain things. Remember, though, that your sacrifices will make accomplishing your goals even sweeter.
- Monitor your progress. Once you put a plan in place, don’t just forget about it. Check up on how you’re doing, ensure that you’re hitting your benchmarks, and if things aren’t going as planned, re-evaluate what might be going wrong so that you can address the issue head on.
SEE ALSO: Freshen Up Your Money Habits for Long-Term Success
Achieving Your Financial Goals
No matter how thorough your plans, they won’t work unless you stay diligent and disciplined about following them through. A great way to hold yourself accountable is to write down your goals as well as your progress as you work to accomplish them. Use these steps to write and track your financial goals:
- Write down your end goal.
- List the steps you need to take to get from where you are to that final goal. This is where your S.M.A.R.T. strategy will come into play. You’ll need to determine if your goal is short-term, midterm, or long-term and create a timeline for how long you expect it to take to achieve your goal.
- Determine how much money you’ll need to reach your goal and divide that by the number of months or years in your timeline.
- Consider creative ways to reach your financial goal. This not only includes saving but cutting expenses or earning extra money as well.
- Write down everything you’ve come up with and begin taking those steps, marking down progress as you get closer and closer to your goal. Being able to see on paper that you’re making progress will help instill the confidence and motivation you’ll need to stay on track to accomplishing your goal.
SEE ALSO: 15 Money Habits You Should be Practicing if You Want to Achieve Financial Freedom
If You Fail to Plan, You’re Planning to Fail
Whether you’re looking to build up your savings, invest your money, or make a special purchase, a strong financial goal will have a plan in place to achieve it. Taking time to write out an incremental plan with measurable steps increases the chances that you’ll stay on track and accomplish your goals. The more intentional you are with your planning, the more invested you’ll be in the outcome. Ultimately, achieving financial goals comes down to having confidence in yourself and believing that you deserve to achieve your dreams. The only person standing in your way is you.
It's important that you feel you have control of your future and over your finances. At TriCapital Wealth Management, we offer the experience and knowledge you need to help you design a specific plan of action to guide you as you work towards accomplishing your biggest financial goals. If you’d like to talk with one of our professionals about helping you plan for your financial future, schedule a complimentary Discovery call with us today.
Securities offered through Triad Advisors, LLC, member FINRA/SPIC. Advisory services offered through TriCapital Wealth Management, Inc. TriCapital Wealth Management, Inc. is not affiliated with Triad Advisors, LLC.