When it comes to achieving your financial goals, no one wants to feel like they are winging it. Winging it is defined as trying or doing something without much practice or preparation. Many of us have dreams and aspirations in life like buying a car, buying our first home, traveling the world, retiring, spending time with the grandkids, and so many other wonderful life milestones. A guaranteed way to miss your dreams and aspirations—your “pot of gold”—is to wing it and hope for the best.
Famed economist Laurence J Peter, once said: “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” Creating a specific and measurable plan to reach your goals is an important step to stop chasing rainbows and improve your odds of reaching higher and achieving financial success. Here are a few tips to help you along your journey.
It Starts with a Budget
Budgeting your money and sticking to that budget is a worthwhile financial goal in and of itself. A budget is a detailed way to track your progress and know where you succeed and where you have setbacks. Just like a runner training for a marathon, tracking your progress and knowing your strengths and weaknesses are critical to achieving your goals. Tracking allows you to adjust areas that need work and guides you toward the goals you set for yourself.
What are SMART Financial Goals?
Your financial goals should align with the overall vision you see for your life. Oftentimes, the stage of life you are in determines your goals. A person with a growing family will have different financial goals than a high school student who isn’t yet financially independent. Good financial plans have specific goals in mind. Generic goals such as “have more money in my savings account” are far too ambiguous to truly push you to reach after them.
When building your plan, remember to be SMART. This means building your financial goals to be:
Instead of the goal to “have more money in my savings account,” change it to “add $1000 to my savings account over the next 6 months.” That ambiguous goal is now something trackable. A trackable goal can keep you focused and increase your chances of meeting it!
3 Types of Financial Goals
Long-term (more than 10 years), mid-term (3-10 years), and short-term (less than 3 years) are the three types of goals to build into your financial plan. Clear and realistic time frames help you to strategize and more effectively plan your steps along your journey. A long-term goal like “pay off mortgage in 15 years” should also be made up of other short and mid-term goals to help you complete it. Additional ‘shorter’ goals like paying off credit card debt or building up a savings account will help toward the longer goal of the 15-year mortgage payoff. Make sure you include short-term goals as “mile markers” along your journey to excite you and push you towards those longer-term goals.
If you feel like you’re chasing rainbows with no end in sight, SEEK HELP! Find a financial advisor, a financially secure family member or friend, or come visit one of our financial wellness consultants here at ACU and have them assist you in making your plan and setting achievable goals. At Ashland Credit Union, it’s our mission to: Embolden our members to reach higher, achieve more, and take control of their financial future. We’d love to come alongside you and get you where you want to be!