I am passionate about helping others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances. I know that the number one way that folks will win with their personal finances is to have a well-written plan and clearly defined goals. Setting financial goals will help you stick to your budget, and ultimately win with your money!
Step 1: Write Down Your Financial Goals
I once read this Chinese Proverb – “The faintest ink is sharper and longer lasting that the brightest mind.” That is so true! When I write down something, I am much more likely to recall it!
Here are some things that can help stimulate your goal writing.
- My book 20/20 Money is about funding your dreams. It helps you explore what your plans, hopes and dreams are. Then I help you figure out ways to fund your dreams beyond your regular income. Pick up a copy from the IWBNIN store.
- If you use Microsoft Money or Quicken, print out an Income & Spending Report for the past year. What needs changed? What should be continued? What should be done even more?
- Is there something in your finances that is REALLY bothering you? Many people have one thing that really bothers them. What is necessary to make it stop bothering you?
Write down your financial goals. We offer a FREE TOOL to help you do just this! You can download a copy of the Financial Yearly Goals sheet [HERE]. Why not do it right now? You don’t have to wait for the new year. In ten minutes or less, you can have your financial goals written down on paper!
Step 2: Put A Completion Date Next To Each Goal
“Fail to plan. Plan to fail.” A plan is not complete without assigning a completion date next to it. This date will help hold you accountable to yourself!
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you look over the goals you have written down and assign expected completion dates.
- If you are married, are you and your spouse on the same page with these financial goals? If you are not on the same page, this will be VERY difficult!
- Do any goals rely on another to be completed first? (For example, if you are paying off two credit cards – does one need to be paid off before the other?)
- Are the goals mildly realistic? Ridiculous goals tend to demotivate and demoralize. Make sure the goal has a good fighting chance of being accomplished! On the other end of the scale, don’t be too easy. Be sure to stretch yourself some!
- Are any goals higher in priority than others? If so, be sure that they are identified as such!
Step 3: Remember Your Financial Goals
There have been times that I have placed my goals in a drawer. This is NOT good! Here are some tips for ensuring your goals are kept in front of you through the year.
- Schedule a task or reminder on your email or phone calendar that will give you an alarm on the date that the goal is expected to be completed.
- Schedule another that beforehand that’s titled – “Review your Financial Goals.” This is REALLY EFFECTIVE if you actually include your Financial Goals on the reminder. That way, the excuse of “I don’t have my goal list with me” is totally removed!
- Place the goal list in front of you at work or on the refrigerator. Place it somewhere that is very visual and will be seen often!
- Tell others about your goals! That is great accountability!
- Start a blog and share your goals with the world! People like Jonathan at My Money Blog and the lazy man at Lazy Man and Money are sharing their personal financial picture with the world! It makes me wildly uncomfortable to see their net worth, but I can’t stop reading their blog!
Step 4: Establish Accountability
You are doing great! You have written down your goals, established a target completion date for each and set up ways to remind yourself of them. Now comes the really hard part … accomplishing the goals!
I have found that there is nothing so effective as personal accountability to ensure that a goal is accomplished. Who is in your life that you really trust and wants to see you achieve your goals? If you are married, your spouse should certainly hold you accountable! If you are not married, who could you ask to hold you accountable? Married or not, it is very effective to ask those you love and trust the most to hold you accountable.
I have a friend who holds me accountable to my financial goals. About once a quarter, he contacts me to see how I am progressing toward the goal. I would hate it if he called and I have made no progress! It helps me stay focused!
You may have different people hold you accountable for different goals. For instance I’ve had a person hold me accountable for my stock investment goals and another for my real estate goals.
Why don’t you take some time right now to determine WHO will hold you accountable for each of your written goals?
Step 5: Take Action!!
I have a quote that I say regularly. It came to me after having been caught in one too many horrible, pointless, useless meetings!
“Thoughts and talk without action are mere babble!”
Enough of the planning. Enough of the talking. It is time to make it happen! Nothing moves until it is shoved. Attack the goal.
It is TIME! What can you do right now to achieve one of your financial goals? Perhaps you can start off you can accomplish one this month!
Call and set up the appointment with an investment broker. Go ahead and get the new insurance quotes. Chop up the credit cards. Close the credit card accounts. Sell the truck. Go to the TOOLS page and put together your first-ever INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO budget!
I end this post with a great quote from Will Rogers …
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
– Will Rogers