Tips for Setting Achievable Financial Goals
The Key Lies in Breaking Your Aspirations into Small, Tangible Steps| By: Randall E. White, CFP®, RICP®, CRPC®, CMFC®
This is the time of year when many people think about setting new financial goals. Of course, it can feel daunting to tackle large-scale aspirations like saving for retirement, saving for your child’s college education, or paying off a mortgage loan, and even our smaller financial goals can leave us feeling anxious or confused about how to move forward.
If you feel overwhelmed by the task of setting financial goals and planning strategies to achieve them, it may help to take a different approach than you have in the past. Think about the big picture and take some time to visualize what financial success looks like to you and what you want your future to look like. Once you have clarity on what you’re aiming for, you can begin setting goals that align with what you value. Read through the steps below for more guidance.
Think about what inspires you.
A key element in setting financial goals – and also in achieving them – is understanding what motivates you. Then you can harness your motivation and turn it into action. So, you want to think not just about what you want to achieve, but why. Your reasoning can be as simple as wanting financial peace of mind. Or it can be a deeper, more specific why, such as not wanting your children to have to struggle to get a college degree like you did. Whatever your reasoning, it’s helpful to identify the driving force behind your goals.
Gain clarity on your current situation.
It can be difficult to figure out where you want to go if you’re unclear about where you’re starting from. Taking time to assess your income, your spending habits, your assets, and liabilities can help you get a clear picture of your current financial reality. From here, you’re well-positioned to consider your priority financial goals.
Get S.M.A.R.T. with your goals.
To make your goals feel more approachable, try using the SMART framework to help tease out details, benchmarks, and timelines. Here is an example of making the common financial goal of creating a budget Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely:
- Make it specific. What do you want your budget to accomplish? What do you want it to prioritize?
- Make it measurable. How will you measure the success of your budget? How will you keep track of your spending to ensure you’re staying on budget each month?
- Ask yourself if it’s achievable. Do you have the resources you need to achieve this goal? If you’re unsure how to build a budget, perhaps using a budgeting app could help you accomplish this goal successfully.
- Determine if your budget is realistic. Does it keep you living within your means without stretching you too thin?
- Give yourself a deadline. I’ll have my budget completed by this date. I’ll reassess my budget every 3 months.
Put your goals on paper.
Once you’ve used the SMART framework above, or another goal-setting framework of your choosing, to determine all the steps you need to take to achieve them, write it all down. Studies show that writing down goals leads to greater success. It also helps you keep your objectives clear, organized, and tangible. Be sure to periodically check in to track your progress and, as you complete a step or goal, cross it off and celebrate your progress.
Reward your successes.
Too often, setting goals can feel like a chore, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Celebrate yourself and enjoy small rewards as you complete tasks and begin making progress. Once you’ve accomplished your highest priority goals, such as building an emergency fund or paying for college, you can focus on your more exciting goals like saving for a dream vacation. Acknowledging your successes, even the small ones, will help you maintain a positive outlook and stay motivated to carry on.
Are You Working Toward Financial Goals?
You work too hard for your money to become complacent and not achieve what you’d like to in life. Committing yourself to setting and achieving financial goals may require you to make sacrifices in the short term, but your future self will be thankful that you chose to invest your time, effort, and money into your future.
Wealth management can be complex and even overwhelming at times. If you feel you might benefit from speaking with a professional about your financial goals, contact us today. At TriCapital, our team is committed to helping you build a comprehensive wealth management strategy that empowers you to achieve your aspirations and live the life of your dreams.
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.