3 Steps to Creating Concrete Financial Goals

by Alexa Mason · 9 comments

You’re constantly falling off the bandwagon when it comes to reaching your financial goals. They seem so big that you’ll never reach them, and you just can’t remain focused.

Sound familiar?

Over the past couple months, I haven’t been my usual highly-motivated self. Instead of working ahead and paying attention to my bottom line, I’ve been slacking. Recently, I realized why.

These last two months of chaos have lacked structured goals, so I’m essentially wandering aimlessly in the dark. The good news?  My two months of zero progress have reinforced my belief that setting financial goals is vital to success.

If you’re new to setting financial goals, here are three tips that will help:

1. Figure out what you really want

Sometimes, the hardest part of setting goals is figuring out what you really want. It just depends on your situation.

For example, at the beginning of the year, I set a number of financial goals for myself (too many, to be honest). And since none of these goals really excited me, I wasn’t motivated to work toward any of them.

When you set your financial goals, be sure you’re choosing something that has meaning for you. What financial goal could you work on that would change your life? What could help you build a better life?

Also, be sure to pick only a couple financial goals to work on at a time. If you spread yourself too thin, you’ll have a hard time remaining focused.

2. Be extremely specific

Once you narrow down the goals you want to achieve, you should break them down into smaller steps. Saying you want to save $10,000 dollars might be a good goal — but you’re not going to get there unless you break the goal down into smaller chunks. Instead, you could make a goal to save $192 a week, or $385 every two weeks.

By breaking down your financial goals into weekly or biweekly steps, you’ll have a far greater chance of success.

3. Set time limits

Putting time limits on your goals will give you that extra motivation to reach them.

Say, for example, you have an extra $500/month, and you want to save $5,000 for a new-to-you car this year. If you stay on budget, you know you’ll be able to accomplish this in ten months. By assigning a specific date to your goal, you’ll feel more motivated to work toward it.

Conclusion

Goals will lead to you success. Start by figuring out what matters most to you. Block everyone else out, and concentrate on what you want your life to look like. Once you have a couple goals picked out, break them down into smaller pieces and assign a time limit.

Once you get the goal-setting process figured out, you’ll be surprised at just how much you can achieve!

What are your best tips for setting financial goals?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • To save for something is to have it in your budget, call it forced saving, it’s the easiest way to reach the savings target.

  • Kit says:

    About 5 years ago I took a long look at my finances when I starting to think about retirement. Because I have lived slightly beyond my means for awhile, I realized that my big dream of retiring with no debt would never happen if I didn’t buckle down right now. I am 5 – 6 years away from retiring (holding off until I’m 70 as I’m lucky enough to love my job) and have created a simple Excel spreadsheet to track my debts, my payment schedule, and also a current vs retirement monthly budget. I look at it every month or two and get excited seeing the balances slowly reduce. I’ve given each debt a priority number, mainly based on interest rates charged (whatever extra income goes to that debt first) . I believe having a simple and visual plan that I can refer to often keeps me focused and excited as I get closer to realizing my goal – and if I stay on track I will be debt-free when I wave goodbye to my coworkers!

    • David Ning says:

      Good to hear that you have a plan!

      I get excited whenever I look at my financial spreadsheets too. It gets even better when you compare the old ones where you’re much more in debt/have much less in investments.

      Many people don’t track or plan because they don’t want to take the time to setup a spreadsheet but I often tell them that it’s such an inspiration to see progress that making one is a no-brainer.

  • David, we think alike. Just last week, I wrote a post on my blog about how I will be setting and celebrating debt payoff milestones. I likely won’t be out of debt until I’m 50. No way I’m waiting that long to travel and see the world. I’m setting a measured pace for debt payoff and retirement saving while trying to have a little bit of life in the meantime.

    • David Ning says:

      While the future is important, it’s not “more” important than the present. Retirement savings and paying off debt is critical, but so is life before then. Good for you on finding the balance!

  • DiDi says:

    I have big goals to get out of debt, save for retirement, and to travel. My debt is so large however, that I’ve learned to take a more measured approach to digging out of that hole so that I have room in my life for the most important things to me like travel. Setting the goals and making them specific is easy for me. The tough part is waiting and having patience for the magic to work.

    • David Ning says:

      With large goals, you may want to set intermediate milestones so you can track your progress. Break them up into pieces and divide and conquer. It can work wonders!

  • Jordan Hanson says:

    For me, figuring out what I really want and being extremely specific have helped me create most of my financial goals. In my opinion, a financial goal is not just something you can figure out in one day. It took me a couple days if not a week to figure out concrete and attainable goals for myself. Being specific only made it easier in my opinion because the more specific I was, the more honest I could be with myself in trying to attain these goals. I think the hardest part of setting financial goals is when you are trying to reach is goals within a time limit. For me, my goals have never had a time limit and I think some times this is why I don’t reach them as fast as I think I should.

    • David Ning says:

      Why not set a time limit as a fun side goal and see if you can make it anyway? You don’t have to hold yourself to the time limit at the beginning, but it might be a good way to “test the waters” so-to-speak.

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