Prioritize and Track Your Financial Goals
If you decide to improve your financial situation, set specific goals. If you search online for "financial goals," you will come across long lists. Some goals you find will be appropriate for oyur situation, while others are not. Focus on setting attainable goals. Overall goals like, paying off debt, making more money, or retiring early are great examples. They establish a framework. However, it is crucial that you set financial goals into action items that you can easily track, if you want to make real progress.
Make a list of your goals and then prioritize them. Once you have your list, don’t forget to monitor them. Establish a system that tracks your progress on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis. Here is an example of how you can set and follow your financial goals:
|#||Category||Specific Goal||Amount||Start Date||Track Date||Status||Comment|
|1||Spending||Cut Phone Bill||$50||December 1, 2018||January 2019||finished||Find New Carrier|
|2||Spending||Find Cheaper Rent||$250||September 1, 2019||February 2019||looking||Look for the new school year.|
|3||Saving||Deposit in Emergency Fund||$400||July 2018||February 2018||OK||Had trouble one month, but staying close to schedule.|
|4||Saving||Build an Emergency Fund||$18,000||July 2018||February 2018||On track||Have about 12 months left to go.|
|5||Borrowing||Pay Off Credit Card||$5000||January 2018||February 2018||On track||Paying about $300 per month to balance on highest interest rate card. Down to $1100.|
|6||Planning||Find New Health Insurance||April 2018||Change Health Carrier for better protection.|
Financial Goals: Make them Achievable
Setting financial goals is one step on your way to financial security and growth, and improving your financial health. Goal setting is a process that includes assessment, tracking, and adjusting your course as necessary to make long-lasting imrovements. Here are two ways to make sure that you achieve your goals:
- Set specific goals: Don't make your goals too general or too lofty. Budgeting and saving goals are fundamental building blocks. Keep a monthly savings goal and once hit, push yourself to increase the amount you save. Use automatic deposits to help meet your goals.
- Look for products and tools: Use readily available tools and calculators to help you assess your situatio and choose products that best fits your situation and personality, and are optimal for achieving your goals.
It is okay to set a goal and not succeed. Often there are events beyond our control that throw off our plans. However, your financial goals help you get back in control, giving you a framework to tweak and reassses your goals and action steps.
Use Financial Goals to Improve Your Finances
Who doesn’t set New Year Resolutions? I am going to take better care of my health, save money, exercise more, eat better, and the list goes on.
Knowing how to set goals is an essential step to financial freedom. However, it is critical that you integrate your goals into a comprehensive financial plan that begins with an assessment of your situation and leads to choosing the right tools and products. Finally, don’t forget to track your progress.
We all know that to achieve a goal you need to be focused. If you set too many goals or too difficult a goal, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Taking small steps and bite-size goals help move you along your journey.
Tip: Before you set your financial goals, take Bills.com Financial Health Survey. Check out how you score in the four basic building blocks: Spending, Savings, Borrowing, Planning. Use your scores as a starting point to see where you can start to improve your financial situation.
Top Financial Goals
Here are some examples of specific health goals, based on the different financial health categories:
- Create a Budget: We all know how tiresome it can be to track our spending. Saving receipts, making notes in a notebook, and tallying up our daily expenditures. For most of us who can't afford everything, we wish to buy keeping a budget helps us control and prioritize our spending habits.
- Maintain Your Budget: It isn’t enough to set up a grand plan. To succeed you need to follow through and track your spending. Check which areas you were able to cut down expenses and which areas you overspent. To make things easier, use one of the popular Budgeting Apps, such as Mint or Acorns. They help you track your activities by linking your credit cards and bank accounts to your budget and streamline the mundane task of registering your spending activities.
- Cut your bills: Setting up and maintaining your budget should be a top financial goal. However, you need to get down to the nitty-gritty and set specific goals. Your spending habits and your needs are specific to your situation; each of us sepnds money in different ways and has a different lifestyle. The important part of cutting bills is to figure out the exact areas of your budget you can trimed. Here are some popular examples:
- Cut down on groceries.
- Spend less on utilities.
- Fnd cheaper alternatives to Cable TV and your current cellphone plan or carrier.
Saving money is another essential part of any financial plan. Integrate your savings goals into your budget and overall spending. Finding ways to save money on your everyday spending helps you find resources to save money for the future.
Frame your savings goals in a way that you look at both your monthly savings (use our Monthly Savings Ratio Calculator) and your overall savings portfolio. Create your savings goals across these three basic categories.
- Build an Emergency Fund: The first place to start with your savings goals is an emergency fund. Did you know that over 42% of American households don’t have savings to cover a $500 emergency? Medical bills, car repairs, a broken down appliance, a house repair are only a few of the reasons we need an emergency fund.
- Put Money in your retirement account: The earlier you start saving, the more you allow your money to work for you. Check to see if your employer has matching funds into a 401k account and top up your contributions. If you don't have a 401k account, look for an IRA account that fits your tax needs. Make your goal realistic, but see if you can save at least 10% of your income in a retirement account.
- Create an Investment Account: If you are meeting your emergency fund and retirement account savings goals, then start looking at ways to save money in an investment account. Start with a money market account and as you build up your portfolio, then diversify. Set your goals to include your monthly savings component as well as overall long-term aims. For example, I want to save $80,000 for a down payment on a house.
Your borrowing goals include both how you borrow money and how you pay off your debt. To set realistic goals, you need to review your debt on an ongoing basis, either monthly or quarterly. Look at your overall debt situation, including your credit cards, auto loans, student loans, personal debt, and mortgage. Your review includes balances, interest rates, and monthly payments.
Borrowing goals include a variety of topics. Here are a few examples of specific borrowing goals:
- Pay off credit card debt
- Consolidate your debt into one affordable monthly payment
- Find a mortgage with a lower monthly payment.
- Shop around for a personal loan to do home repairs.
One common borrowing goal is to get out of debt. While this is a great long-term goal, it is important to break it down into actionable steps. Check out Bills.com Debt Payoff Calculator to point you in the right direction.
Do you plan for the future? Research has shown that those who plan are more healthy and secure. Your financial planning goals include setting up health insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance. It also includes setting up a more extensive plan and tracking mechanism.
Here are some examples of financial planning goals:
- Set up a health care program that fits your families needs. Weigh the costs and benefits of the different program, especially the deductibles. Do you have enough in your emergency fund to cover health costs?
- Talk to an insurance agent. Set up your goals and the amount of money you need to pay each month.
- Talk to a tax expert and finds ways to reduce your tax bill and set up your estate.
Share Your Financial Goals
Learning how to set up financial goals is an art. Share with us your financial goals. Let us know what kind of goals you have and how you achieved them. Place your comments or questions below or contact us through the chat button.