You may have made resolutions this year to sleep earlier, eat healthier, simplify your schedule, be more intentional with your relationships, and the list goes on...but have you set any financial goals for yourself in 2017? It's still not too late!
We've all heard that the key to more powerful goal-setting is to make sure your goals are SMART: significant, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
For significant, think of what specific item would give you the most financial peace -- paying off loans? not living paycheck to paycheck? retiring early? having a plan? Make sure your goal is measurable, meaning you know exactly when you've achieved it. (And then you can celebrate afterwards!) Be honest with yourself or run the numbers to determine if the goal you set is actually attainable. Otherwise, you're only setting yourself up for failure. Relevant is evaluating what's most critical at the moment -- for example, save for your own retirement before you save for your kid's college education, pay off your high-interest rate credit card debt before saving for a house. Finally, set a month you want to accomplish your goals by (time-bound).
No need to go overboard with multiple financial goals--just focus on ONE at a time, and pour all your energy and discipline to achieve it. Here are a few ideas for goals:
- Pay off an additional $6,000 in student loans by December by automatically deducting $250 per paycheck.
- Select a guardian for my children and set up a will so I know that my loved ones will be taken care of if anything happens to me; research and find an estate planning attorney by March.
- Have "the money talk" with my significant other by June (ahh!)
- Make sure I'm taking advantage of all my corporate benefits; schedule an appointment with HR to discuss benefits by February
- Open a Roth IRA account and contribute $458 per month for a total contribution of $5,500 for the year. (max is $5,500, income limitations may apply)
Once you've set the goal, write it down and put it somewhere you can look at daily to remind yourself. Where do you spend the most time each day? For me, it's in front of my fridge. (Seriously, why do I check the fridge every 10 minutes and expect new food to magically appear?) Finally, tell one other person about your goal to keep you accountable.