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10 years ago, I started setting financial goals to help me pay off debt. Although I had no idea about goal setting, I tried. I told myself that I wanted to be debt free. That’s it. That’s all I did. That was my goal. It was a good goal to have but I kept failing at my goal for the next 3 YEARS! It wasn’t until I was at a project management seminar that I finally realized why I kept failing my financial goals, I was not planning them.
Once I started to plan my financial goals, everything became a little easier. I made a path to follow and I was able to accomplish my goals faster than ever! I want to share with you how I make my financial goals every year, along with the worksheet I use to write it all down…
I knew I wanted to be in a better financial situation but I did not know why. I just thought it was something I was supposed to do; it was a part of being an adult. This is not a good enough reason to set your financial goals. You need inspiration and motivation to achieve your goals. Being debt free was not enough for me, I wanted more money so I could pay for my expensive hobby (ballroom dance, if you were wondering). The more debt I paid off, the more classes and competitions I would be able to participate in.
Although I don’t ballroom dance anymore, I have other motivating factors to be debt free such as my kids. We would not be able to pay for extra-curricular activities, family vacations, or contribute financially to their schools if I have lots of debt payments to make every month. The key is to be motivated by something or someone important in your life.
Know that we know “why” we are setting financial goals, let’s define our goals. Did you know that you are more likely to achieve a goal if is written down? Well, it’s true and I have created a Financial Goal Planning worksheet to help you write it down.
Here is a list of financial goals to help you if you need some ideas:
This is an important step that cannot be skipped. How much is it going to cost to reach your financial goal? What is the amount of debt do you have? How much money do you need to save? Plan out each goal as if you are going to write a check TODAY to complete your goal. What would the amount be?
After you know the amount, check your budget. Can you save enough money to reach your goal? This is the part I often failed. I never took the time to plan out my goals, I never researched the cost. If I did know the cost or the amount needed, I never checked with my budget to see if it was possible for me to achieve my financial goal.
On the 2018 Financial Goal Planner, I have added a place for you to add the goal amount. Check this amount with your budget to see if and when you can achieve it. Speaking of “when” that brings me to my next point…
No more empty promises to ourselves! Say it with me! We need deadlines for achieving our goals. We need an end date. If you want to vacation in August, then August 1 is your due date. Giving yourself a sense of urgency makes you more likely to accomplish your goals.
I have started doing this for vacations and big purchases. I cannot tell you how much of a game changer this is for me since I am the type of person that will keep putting it off if I don’t think it’s important. Adding a deadline to my financial goals gives me something to look forward to. I know that after that date, I will be going on vacation or have that new laptop I have been having an eye on. Knowing that the sacrifices do not last forever gives me more motivation to finish.
Some financial goals you set may be achieved quickly while others may take longer…a lot longer. Keeping track of your progress reminds you that you are moving forward and getting closer to accomplishing your goal.
Write down the tasks you will do to help reach your goal. Use the tasks to monitor your progress along with the due date and amount needed. Although some journeys are longer than others, know that you are farther from where you started.
Celebrate and Repeat
Once you achieve a goal (aka check the “Done” box), celebrate! Go to your favorite restaurant, pamper yourself, or whatever you wish to do. It is important to celebrate each goal accomplished. Celebrations or rewards gives you something to look forward to, more motivation to conquer your goal. I don’t know about you but any chance I get to do something I like, I am going to take it. Besides, don’t feel guilty. You deserve it! Just remember to add your celebrations to the budget 😉
After the celebration, it is time to repeat and start working on accomplishing the next financial goal. I recommend focusing on one goal at a time if you can. It will make achieving them a lot easier if you don’t have too much going on at once.
There you have it. It is time to set our financial goals!
What financial goals do you plan to set?