Now that spring is well underway and we're into the second quarter of the year, it's a good time to take stock of where you're at. And maybe even set a few money goals. Here's how to set money goals that make your life better.
It's an annual tradition: at the beginning of the year, many of us set goals, including money goals.
Unfortunately, most of us abandon our goals before February. Even if that's you, the good news is that you can set goals any time of the year. Even now! Start over again. And this time, set your money goals in a way that will be more likely to help you stick with it.
One way to reduce the chances of failure is to set goals that you know will enrich your life.
Before setting your next goal or resolution or whatever, stop and think about whether or not it makes sense for you. Rather than looking to create a list of things you want to accomplish, take a few minutes to learn how to set money goals that enrich your life.
Review What You Want Your Money to Accomplish
If you want to figure out how to set money goals that enrich your life, it starts with knowing what you want your money to accomplish.
Too often, we think of money as the end.
I like to think of money as the means to the end. Money is a resource that can be used to help you create the life you want. It takes time to get to that point, but that's what goals are for.
Before you set money goals, think about what you want your money to accomplish.
- Do you want to plan for a comfortable future?
- How would you like to travel?
- Do you want to give to charity?
- Does your money allow you to get your needs?
You probably have different priorities than me, or your family, or friends. It always starts with looking at your own priorities and deciding what matters most to you. Your goals should come from a place that reflects who you are and what matters most to you.
You can also use software to help you set money goals. I like using Personal Capital to get a handle on where my money is going, so I know what really matters to me. This information can help me set much better goals in the long run.
Start with a Theme
In the past, I used to list a bunch of goals that I didn't accomplish. I adjusted that a few years ago. I changed the way I set goals and started just setting one big goal for the whole year.
When I learned how to set money goals that enriched my life, I started by figuring out the financial Thing would best help my situation. I picked that one goal to work on for the whole year. Perhaps it was reducing my debt by $10,000 in a year. Maybe it was refinancing the house. At one point, it was working up to the point where I was setting aside enough money each month to max out my Roth IRA.
Now, my new approach is to start with a theme for the year. This year, I've chosen “grow.”
As you set money goals, think about the theme you want for your life for the coming year. I'm working to grow my business in new ways this year, so my goals will revolve around that objective.
I don't need to make a bunch of resolutions — or to kickstart them again at various times throughout the year. Instead, I just need to figure out one thing at a time in order to work toward my over-arching theme. Once I accomplish one thing that helps me with my theme, I can move on to another item that will help.
That way, all of your money goals are in line with what you hope to accomplish in the long run.
Don't Limit Yourself to Time of Year
Learning how to set money goals is more about developing a lifestyle around financial improvement than it is a specific time of year.
It's easy to get caught up in New Year's resolutions or Financial Spring Cleaning, or whatever the next fad is. Unfortunately, it also increases the chance that you'll feel like a failure and give up.
If you want to be more effective with your money goals, get out of the mindset that you can only commit to improvements at the beginning of the year. Instead, acknowledge that you can improve any time of the year.
Setting money goals that will enrich your life in the long run is about deciding what you want that life to look like — and then pursuing it with your financial habits.
Even when you feel like you've failed with a financial goal, you can still start again. And the sooner you start again, the better off you'll be. Don't wait for some arbitrary deadline to get going with the next stage.
Instead, acknowledge what you need to do for success in the long run and start fresh immediately on the first stage.
We're all works in progress. That includes the way we manage money. Continue to evolve, and manage your money in a way that points you toward a better life, and chances are you'll see positive progress.