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The new year has just begun and so have the New Year’s resolutions. What better time to set and slay a financial goal than right now?
What the heck is a financial goal?
To sum it up, a financial goal is any goal that involves money. This includes buying a home, purchasing a car, paying off a credit card, buying a new MacBook, getting your first apartment, etc.
Related reading: How to Move Into Your First Apartment on a Low Income
Why do I need a financial goal?
Success is often measured by goal-setting. Goals allow you to continue motivating yourself to achieve more while keeping track of your accomplishments.
Make a list of your wants/needs
Get a piece of paper or whip out your laptop and write down everything you want to accomplish … that has to do with money of course.
Do a complete brain-dump. No goal is a stupid goal (in this step that is).
Read over your list and choose one or two goals that you are most eager to achieve. I suggest sticking with one goal at a time because it allows you to put all of your focus there, thus achieving it quicker.
Not sure which one to choose?
If you find yourself constantly daydreaming about the day that specific want or need becomes a reality then start with that one first!
Now that you have your financial goal and you’re tap dancing on Cloud 9 just thinking about that moment when you place a line through it, it’s time to give yourself a reality check.
Dunt dunt dunt.
Considering your current financial situation, is that goal something you can really accomplish? Now, don’t use that cliché I can do anything! line, this is the time to be brutally honest with yourself. Aiming too high and not accomplishing your goal will ultimately leave you disappointed and may deter you from trying again. Accepting failure is a #girlboss no-no.
You do not want to spend all of your precious time and energy on a goal that you could never accomplish within a reasonable timeframe. If your goal is to purchase a brand new BMW but you’re making minimum wage then go back to your list and try it again girl.
Consider watering your goal down a little (or a lot) to make it more realistic. Instead of a brand new BMW, make it a used one.
Make it S.M.A.R.T
Make sure that your goal is SMART.
Specific-Don’t be too broad. Be specific and write down exactly what it is that you want to accomplish. Instead of just saying that you want to pay off debt say I want to pay off my Discover credit card instead.
Measurable-You won’t know how far you have come if your goal isn’t measurable. Decide how you will measure your progress to ensure that you are staying on track and that the goal has actually been achieved.
Attainable-Make sure your goal is actually something that you will put forth the effort in attaining.
Realistic- As stated before, be realistic! Create a financial goal that you can achieve based on your current financial situation.
Timely- In order to decrease the chances of you working on your goal forever or just not getting to it at all, give yourself a deadline. An example is deciding that you will save $1000 for your next vacation by June 20xx.
What does this look like all together?
I will pay $500 off my Discover credit card balance by March 2, 2018.
Get rid of distractions
Cut off, or limit, anything that will keep you from reaching your goal.
Social media is great for staying connected with family and friends, but it can also leave you feeling less than. You know those moments when it seems like everyone is more accomplished than you? Those are the exact moments that can set you back.
Scrolling through a timeline full of new purchases makes it hard to keep your focus and you just may give in to temptation. Consider unplugging for a while until you feel confident enough to resist buying into someone else’s altered reality.
Other distractions may include a particular store (*cough* Target!) that you always find yourself making unnecessary purchases from, etc.
The fewer distractions you have the more likely you are to succeed.
Related reading: How to Stop Senseless Spending
Yes, the word that sends chills down your spine. Sac-ri-fice.
Making lifestyle adjustments is vital for reaching a financial goal. You cannot expect to save money or pay off debt when you’re still ordering three combo meals a day.
Take a look through your budget and spending habits, and determine what can be tweaked in order to give yourself more wiggle room in your wallet to use towards your goal.
Now I won’t be the personal finance blogger telling you to cut off all trips to Starbucks or lower your thermostat to 49 degrees in the middle of winter just to save money, but making small lifestyle changes can work just as well without leaving you feeling deprived
Educating yourself about your goal and how to achieve it allows you to create the best plan of action. You may even discover that your goal is not very #goals at all.
If you want to purchase a car then you may want to research financing options and ways to ensure that you get the best rate, such as improving your credit score.
As I’m sure you know, just about anything can be found on the internet. You have a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips.
Setting a goal is great and all, but if you lack confidence then failure is soon to come. Starting off with small goals is great for building yourself up to achieve even bigger goals.
If you’re not successful the first time around don’t beat yourself up over it. Cut yourself some slack and develop a new approach. Taking action is the first step to building confidence, and although there may be times when you don’t know exactly what step to take next just continue to keep moving.
Having a specific goal, establishing a plan, and educating yourself all give you the confidence in knowing that you can slay your financial goals.
Favorite Money Resources
Ebates: Shop with Ebates at your favorite stores and get cashback on your purchases. Get paid by check or PayPal!
Ibotta: This cashback app supports 273 stores such as Walgreens, Kroger, and Walmart. Find offers before you shop and redeem your offers by taking a picture of your receipt!
Digit: Designed for those with bad spending habits, Digit finds money that it can set aside for you. Simply connect your checking account, and let them do the saving for you. You’ll receive daily alerts of your account balance, and you can access your money at any time. With a no overdraft policy, Digit will never take out more than you can afford! Read: How to Save Money When You Feel Broke
Personal Capital: Personal Capital allows you to get a unique financial picture by combining all of your accounts under one log-in. Simply connect all of your accounts to easily track your spending, keep up with your budget, and manage your retirement accounts. Read: Manage Your Money Like a Boss + Personal Capital Review