Financial goals are the personal, big-picture objectives you set for how you’ll save and spend money. They can be things you hope to achieve in the short term or further down the road. Either way, it’s often easier to reach your goals if you identify them in advance.
These are the 10 basic steps to achieve your financial goals.
Step 1: What’s Behind Your Financial Decisions?
The first step to becoming smart about money is to know better how you feel about it. Following your Life Values — the Inner, Social, Physical, and Financial drivers that impact your financial decisions — can help clarify your goals and priorities. For example, taking the quiz with your partner or spouse will let you better understand each other’s financial motives and preferences.
When completing the quiz, immediately choose only one answer per question. Be real with yourself and remember that there is no “wrong” answer; only your personal choice.
Step 2: Get Organized
Make Time to Manage Your Money
Analyze the financial planning part of your routine. Just as you would schedule a time to go to the grocery store or the gym, you also should plan time to maintain a healthy financial life. Devote time each week to thinking, talking, and learning about money management. Invest 30 to 60 minutes each week toward business planning, and communicate with your spouse or partner about developing a plan together.
Step 3: Identify Where Your Money Goes
It is possible to gain control of your financial situation, but first, you must know where your money goes. Begin by listing down everything you think you spent money last month. Next, locate your most recent bank and credit card statements to see what you paid. Be sure to note everything you purchased and how much it cost. Include rent, car insurance, and groceries, small purchases such as coffee or snacks, and fees from your bank or credit card. Use the Spending Analyst worksheet to get started.
Step 4: Shop Smarter
Increase Your Purchasing Power: Securing spending leaks frees up cash so you can concentrate on turning your dreams into reality. Another way to “find” money without actually making more is to make smarter spending decisions.
Step 5: Review and Reduce Your Debt
Many financial advisors advise that your total consumer debt should be less than 20 percent of your net income. Consumer debt includes credit card payments, car loans, home loans, student loans, and any other debts that you repay monthly. Use these calculations to assess your debt load
Step 6: Develop a Strong Credit Report
Find out how you develop a secure credit card report: Your credit report reveals how you’ve settled your debts in the past. It displays the current amount of debt you have and how much debt you’ve repaid. Maintaining a good credit report can help you in several ways. You can get more favorable terms on loans and liabilities; it will be easier for you to receive credit
Step 7: Save For Your Future
Pay Yourself First: Saving money is not easy, but it is necessary to achieve financial well-being and to secure your future. One of the best and simplest ways to save money and start a stable retirement income plan is to pay yourself first. Every time you receive a paycheck, keep a specific percentage of your income before spending money on anything else. Some may choose to have the bank automatically transfer a certain amount of money from your account to your savings each month. So, in this way the money never hits your pocket, so you don’t miss it.
Step 8: Set Financial Goals
Be Smart About Your Goals: Perhaps you’d like to take a vacation next summer or any other goals you have. Whatever your goals might be, you have a better chance of accomplishing them if you write them down. Once you list down your all goals, split them into three categories: short-term, medium-term, and long-term
Step 9: Build a Spending Strategy
Arranging your financial goals in writing can make them more accurate and achievable. However, it’s easy for everyday purchases and responsibilities to get in the way of saving for the future. A spending plan is not meant to be a strict budget. Instead, it’s a guide that will help you take handle of your financial future and, eventually, reach your goals.
Step 10: Invest Money to Reach Your Goals
Once you’ve known your financial goals and set a spending plan, you know how much you are saving and how much you will need to reach your set financial goals. Investing is one of the best ways to watch your money grow. When you invest, you put money aside for long-term goals such as retirement or a child’s education. The easiest way to do this is by having money automatically decrease from your bank account or paycheck and put it into the investment vehicle of your choice.