If you’re anything like me, you’ve set a few financial goals in your life. You work hard at them, but then something comes up. You paid the card down only to have to rack it back up again. By the end of the year, you see how much progress you’ve made but all the numbers look the same. It’s a constant up and down battle.
I finally got sick of setting goals that didn’t work and decided that this year would be different. I didn’t set a huge goal of getting out of debt by the end of the year, but I’m more hopeful of hitting the goals I did make. Here’s what I’ve done different this time around:
1.) Look at the time (year, month, etc.) ahead of you
If you set yearly goals, look at what the year ahead actually is going to look like. Are your circumstances drastically changing? 2019 is the year my husband and I are having our first baby (yay!) so I know that I probably won’t be going back to work after. At the very least, I know there will be a few months out of the year that I won’t be working.
So it would be a little crazy for me to assume our income (and spending) will stay the same. I have to take that into account when setting our money goals for the year.
2.) Be realistic
Just like it would be crazy for me to pretend like my money situation isn’t going to go through a big change this year with a new baby, you have to really think about and be realistic with your own money situation for the year.
Take a broad look at the year ahead and see what’s coming your way. Are you graduating from college? Changing jobs? Moving to a new city? If you know of any life changes coming up, factor those into your goal setting.
3.) Figure out what you REALLY want
This step is super important because when you’re forced to choose your goal over something you really want that’s on sale, your humanness is going to want that shiny thing that’s in front of you.
You need a strong reason for sticking to your goal. What’s the “why” behind it? Why do you really want it? If your goal is to get out of debt, that’s not going to be strong enough to beat out a new day’s temptation. It’s too easy to just go ahead and purchase the $30 thing you want because really, what’s 30 bucks compared to your mountain of debt?
Ask yourself why do you want to achieve your goal? If it’s getting out of debt, why do you want to be debt free? Your answer may be to have more spending money each month. Well, why do you want more spending money each month? To that you might answer because you want to be able let your kids do sports or take piano lessons? Why? To provide the best life possible for your kids. That’s your true why.
Go deep with this one and don’t stop with your first answer. Keep digging until you get to your true reason behind your goal.
4.) Don’t go too big
One thing that’s always tripped me up with my goals has been making them too big. I’m all about shooting for the stars, but eventually you have to learn to be happy with “small” progress too.
This year I’ve decided that instead of setting a goal to get out of all our debt, my goal is to get out of credit card debt only. This means that car and personal debt can wait. I’m going to focus on attacking my credit cards one by one until each of them are paid off. This way I can focus on one small goal at a time and it will be easier to see the progress we’re making and hit small wins throughout the year to keep us motivated.
It’s hard when you set too big of a goal because you can’t see your progress as easily. So when it comes down to those daily spending decisions (like save the money or go ahead and go out to dinner) you’re going to choose whatever feels best in the moment. And it’s those daily spending decisions that add up.
5.) Focus and revisit your goal often
Some people choose to make a vision board of what their future will look like once they’ve hit their money goals. Others may keep a quote or saying taped to their debit card so they’ll think twice every time they use it. Whatever you choose to do, keep your goal front of mind so you have something to fight with when those daily decisions come up. It’s the little things that add up to the big things.
Every time you say no to an expensive meal out, a new pair of shoes, or even your morning coffee run, you’re saying yes to your goal. Use the money that you saved by saying no towards your goal right away. Add it up at the end of the month and you’ll be surprised at how much extra went towards your debt or your savings account. You’ll be so glad you chose your goal in the end!
Related posts: How to Set Goals You Won’t Give Up On
It’s possible to set solid money goals this year
By planning for the actual year ahead of you and being realistic with what you can accomplish during that time-frame, this can be the year you finally hit your money goals. Knowing what you really want and not being afraid to make your goals smaller will give you the tools you need for success. If you’re a bit of a perfectionist like me, it can be hard to not set those huge, gigantic goals like usual. Give yourself permission to hone in set more “mini goals” that will keep you motivated all year long.
Finally, make it impossible to forget about your goals. Keep them front and center and never stop working towards them. Consider your goal before every purchase you make and decide if they line up. Make this the year you crush your goals! You’ll be so proud when you look back and realize this was the time you didn’t let yourself down.