We talk often about that stress-inducing ‘B’ word (budgeting…), but why do we concern ourselves with building a basic budget and focusing on putting money in savings anyway?
One word. GOALS.
Whether you’ve never given it much thought or voiced yours aloud, to your spouse, your mom or even to your barista, we all have financial goals. Much like snowflakes, no two goals are exactly alike. Your version of financial freedom may be freeing yourself from credit card debt while your BFF’s view could be paying cash for their next vehicle.
Regardless, you can’t quite get to the point of knowing how to get somewhere without defining where you’re going. So, let’s take a moment to think on that topic:
“What do I want?”
Before the panic sets in as you realize you’re not quite sure what you want or maybe you feel you want too much and none of it feels attainable–we have good news. Here’s a simple goal setting worksheet that helps you get it all down on paper and even helps you define the ‘why’ of it as well as suggests some next steps for tracking and rewarding.
A few things to keep in mind when setting your financial goals.
1. No goal is too small. Believe it or not, your small goals help you build toward your larger goals anyway, so think small as much as you’d like. Essentially, you’re testing the waters with a small goal so you can see and feel how the process works. You’ll soon see how each of the saving/spending choices you’re making become easier.
2. How do you eat an entire cake? Bite by bite. Yes, we threw a cliché out there (kinda). But, it’s true… don’t become overwhelmed with the magnitude of your financial big picture. Just like anyone else, you’ll be breaking each goal down into bite-size pieces that make sense for you. Eventually, you’ll see it all coming together. For some, that’s major motivation to keep pushing themselves to take more bites, or steps, toward their bigger goals.
3. The only mistake is not starting to begin with. You really only have two choices when it comes to reaching goals: you can choose to work toward reaching them or choose to do nothing. Even if you jot down your goals on scrap paper (note napkins count, too) and get started with a burst of enthusiasm and motivation then fall off the bandwagon (oops, another cliché) a quarter of the way through, well, at least you started. Just don’t forget to restart. You may have to pick yourself up and reassess, but you’re already miles ahead. The bottom line is… it’s ok to mess up every now and then.
4. Be lazy. Yep. Be lazy. Make reaching your goals as easy on yourself as possible. Use the tools available to you to make transitioning from a not-so-savvy to a super-savvy-saver simple. Once you’ve set a budget to determine the amount you can comfortably save, go ahead and set up an automatic transfer to savings. Or, even better, set up a payroll deduction from your paycheck to savings. If you don’t see the cash entering and leaving your checking account, you’ll miss it less (if at all).
5. See it and believe it. For the visually inclined, personal vision boards, or tools which use images to help you better define and focus on a specific goal, are growing in popularity. You can make yours as detailed or simplified as you’d like to help you stay on top of your goals. For instance, if saving enough money to pay for your child’s future education is part of your plan, you may have photos of your child, images of colleges, books or school logos, along with inspirational quotes about growing up pinned, stapled, taped or glued to a poster board, corkboard or even a blank wall in your home. Each time you pass these vision boards, they help you remember why you do what you do each day, especially when having to make a tough financial decision.
6. My goal is (not) better than your goal. Who’s to say your financial goals are less important or exciting than anyone else’s. You do you. You know what works for you. You know what’s most important to you. Don’t worry if it seems your ideas of financial soundness aren’t aligning with your peers’; not everyone wants the same things. In the end, what matters is you’re happy with your outcome.
Talk to us.
If you need a little push in the right direction, let’s talk. You can drop by and talk with one of our Member Advisors a little bit about your goals, find out which tools you can use to make it easy on yourself and get a little guidance on where your focus should be.
And don’t forget that ‘note napkin’ or your Goal Setting Worksheet. When someone asks you what your goals are and why, you’ll be ready to talk it through with them and work up a plan that best fits your budget and means.
Good luck, Goal Digger.