financial goals

Financial Goals for 2017


By: K.H. Smith

As the holidays are wrapping up, we are looking into the New Year and deciding on resolutions.  What do you want to commit to this year? Most New Year’s resolutions tend to be short lived, but that sense of hope still drives us to make resolutions every year. What if instead of a resolution that we half-heartedly make, we make achievable goals.  We make short term and long term goals with a plan on how to achieve them. This plan would make it easier to reach those desired long term financial goals of being debt free, having a strong emergency fund, and healthy retirement accounts.

If this sounds like the future you want, then you have to commit to it.  But that commitment alone will not get the job done.  You need to set reasonable, achievable goals for yourself.  Maybe you need weekly accountability with your spending or just an amount to save from this paycheck.  These small goals will help you towards the bigger picture of financial freedom.   How do you make these goals?

I like to work backwards, starting with choosing your long term goal.  Think of what you want to have achieved by the end of 2017.  That is now your long term goal.  For example, let’s say your goal is to pay off your credit card balance of $10,000.  Great goal!  Now we need to break that into smaller monthly goals that you can achieve.  For example, start with a short term goal of not using that credit card or any credit card for the month.  If that seems like a huge challenge, then maybe that becomes your only goal for January, so you can focus on it.  You can have several goals each month, some build on each other, some are just for the month. Something like this…

 

January Financial Goals

  1. Don’t use credit cards.
  2. Make a budget
  3. Reduce spending on shopping by 50% (put money towards credit card balance)
  4. If you have good credit, look for 0% balance transfer credit cards to transfer your balance to. That way you will be paying only principle and not interest each month.  Only do this if you will not rack up more credit card debt and if you find a no fee credit card to do this with.

 

February Financial Goals

  1. Continue January goals 1-3 (savings to credit card balance)
  2. Eat at home or pack lunches from home all month (savings to credit card balance). Here is my advice for the Eat At Home Challenge
  3. Use coupons for groceries

 

March Financial Goals

  1. Continue January goals 1-3 (savings to credit card balance)
  2. Look for a side hustle or two, like dog walking, babysitting, yardwork, etc. (cash to credit card balance)
  3. Cut 1 week of groceries by eating from your pantry/fridge/freezer/leftovers (savings to credit card balance)

 

April Financial Goals

  1. Continue January goals 1-3 (savings to credit card balance)
  2. Plan free entertainment for the month (savings to credit card balance)
  3. Cancel gym membership and workout outside (savings to credit card balance)

 

May Financial Goals

  1. Continue January goals 1-3 and April goal 3 (savings to credit card balance)
  2. Have a yard sale or sell items on Ebay (profit to credit card balance)

 

June Financial Goals

  1. Continue January goals 1-3 (savings to credit card balance)
  2. Assess progress to long term goal, i.e. what is your remaining credit card balance?

 

This list of goals would continue, repeat, and evolve if necessary.  Maybe your long term goal is too lofty to be met in one year’s time, adjust your short term goals to be more aggressive or change your intended end date.

 

The point is that doing little things each month with a common long term goal can get you there.  My husband likes to say, “Every little bit helps!”  This plan can change as needed, but your commitment to the final end goal needs to remain strong.  During this goal setting time, maybe you have strong motivators as to why you want to take on this challenge.  Now is the time to write them down.  Put them with your monthly goals. Read them when you are tempted to give up and return to your old habits.  Success comes down to how badly you want it.  Do you want financial freedom?  Do you want to have cash savings for purchases versus credit card debt?  Do you want less or no stress paying bills because they are now planned for?

 

Get your family on board. Obviously to be successful you need your partner’s support and cooperation.  Explain your plan to the whole family.  You don’t have to give your kids all the specifics, but letting them know you have financial goals to meet and you need their help.  If they are old enough, explain that you are getting your debts under control and saving for the future.  Make it a challenge for the whole family.  That accountability will help make the plan more successful.

 

Have a monthly meeting or assessment of your progress.  What went well, what didn’t?  What did you learn? What can you live with in the longer term? What do you need to add back in your budget? Just because you wrote the plan for the year in January doesn’t mean you can’t change it in March if something isn’t working.  That does not mean if things become a little uncomfortable, you have permission to quit!  It’s going to be a little tight, that is to be expected.  All challenges are a little difficult, or they wouldn’t be challenges, would they? If you need to change your plan, that’s ok, just make sure you are still reaching for your long term goal.  Maybe you need to extend the timeframe a little.  Just keep your eye on the prize!

 

Once you have done this, you will see how a plan can help make your goals become reality.  You can apply this to many different areas of your life.  It’s all about the planning.  Like the old quote “Failing to plan is planning to fail”!

 

What goals do you want to achieve in 2017?


 

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