Hello Members of Southern Lakes Credit Union,
A great old saying says “Start with the Finish in Mind”. This is such a true statement when it comes to goal setting. Right now I am at the start of my winter running training. This involves time with my treadmill to get ready for when the weather warms up for real. My goal is to be able to run a comfortable 5k by May. With that goal in mind I could have just made it a pipe dream and run here and there with the hopes of it happening but as you know without practice and planning nothing happens. To make my goal a reality, I am counting my miles every week to ensure that I am averaging 1 mile a day to start and ramping that up every month until May. I also have a pact with my sister to hold me responsible for my miles. That gives me an accountability partner to get me going on those days I just do not want to run.
Achieving financial goals are like getting ready for a race. You need to start with the end in mind. Have a clear goal in mind, set up your plan in writing, and let someone who cares about you know your goal/plan so they can help keep you accountable. Here is a breakdown of these steps to help you achieve your financial goals.
Step 1 – Have a Clear Goal
Figure out what you want to accomplish so that you can make it measurable. If you cannot measure a goal it is very difficult to achieve a goal. You need to set a clear goal, if you hope to achieve that goal. For example, if you want to purchase a car and do not want to borrow the whole purchase price take the time to figure out how much you want to spend. A good used car can cost anywhere between $15,000 and $30,000. So think about what you need. Do you have a lot of stuff to haul around? Then maybe you need an SUV or a truck. Is good gas mileage important to you? Then you probably want a smaller car or hybrid. How much do you want to put down on the purchase? Is it 20%, then you will need to save up $3,000 – $6,000. Set a clear goal so you can aim for the right target.
Step 2 – Set Up a Plan in Writing
Put together your plan and make sure it is written out. Now when I say written out, it does not mean that it needs to be on paper (but that helps). I personally love to use Google docs because you can have a specific document and spreadsheet to layout your plan. Let’s say your goal is to save up $3,000 for a down payment on a car purchase. To put together your plan you need to know when you want to have that money saved. Set a date to have the money saved up and work backwards. If you want to have the $3,000 saved in six months you will need to save $500 a month. To make it easier you can break that down into bite sized pieces like $125 saved per week or about $18 saved per day. Once you have the amount figured out, write down the ways you are going to save the money. Like spending less on coffee, buying store brand instead of name branch grocery items, collecting cans to recycle, etc. Finally, you have to complete the most import part of having a plan which is to record what you are doing on a regular basis. For example on Monday you save $5, that means for the rest of the week you will need to save $120. Recording what you are doing helps keep you on track so that you know the score. Knowing the score allows you to come up with the ways to keep you working towards your goal.
Step 3 – Tell Someone About Your Goal
Share your goal with an accountability partner. Tell someone about your goal/plan who you know will check in with you about it. Share with them the details of your plan to help them keep you on track. This step is key to helping you achieve your goal. Once you have shared your goal/plan with someone it makes achieving the goal a reality. By having someone you trust aware of what you want to accomplish this gives you the backup and support you need to reach for your goal. You may stumble along the way which is why you will need this person to give you the words of encouragement to keep you on track.
Here is a bonus step to keep you on track. Physically write down your goal on a piece of paper and put it somewhere you will see it every day. Stick it to your bathroom mirror or on your fridge door. As you get closer to your goal write down how much you have saved to see how close you are. Seeing your goal every day will give you more motivation to achieve it.
Remember that life happens, so as you are working towards your goal if you stumble take the time to regroup and go through the steps again to get yourself back on track. It takes smalls steps and practice to achieve any goal. Start setting your financial goals today so that you can be on the path to financial success in your future.