Setting financial goals – make a plan and make the dream happen!
When you think of money, what is your dream?
We’d all like to have more money and no money worries wouldn’t we? But how often do we dream it and carry on as normal?
A lot of money dreams can be made a reality – maybe not being a millionaire – but a lot of dreams aren’t even that big…
“I dream of having no credit cards”
“I dream of having spare money at the end of the month”
“I’d love a really great holiday this year”
“I dream of retirement… but don’t know when it’s going to happen (sad face)”
All of the above dreams are do-able for most incomes. The lower the income, the longer it takes, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
You’ve just got to have a plan.
You need a plan because most goals take TIME.
Some money goals are short term, some longer term. E.g. it’s do-able to save an emergency fund in a year, but early retirement is a longer term goal.
I have a several goals on the go at once – short, mid and long term. They get updated all the time as my situation changes. If you want to read about my plan, head to Lucy’s I Want A Bit More money goals.
Whatever it is you hope to make happen with your money, it ain’t happening now or you wouldn’t be dreaming about it. So your plan is going to change that, but it will take a bit of time. The sooner you start, the sooner your plan will come to fruition.
Some timeframes to mull over:
Having spare money at the end of the month – this one can happen the same month! If you are very weighed down with debts and outgoings though it could take a bit longer to get your house in order.
A great holiday can take a year or more to save up for – depends if you are talking great or once in lifetime – once in a lifetime could take longer!
Clearing an overdraft can around 2-12 months or more if you have a really big one.
Paying off credit card debts can take anything from a few months to a few years depending on the size of the debt.
An emergency fund can take a year or two to build up.
Retirement funds generally take a good 3-4 decades but can be a lot less with determination!
What financial goals should you set for yourself?
Only you know what your goals should be but here are a few good solid suggestions. If none of them fire you up, think of your own and skip to the next section.
If you want to know what my goals are, you can read about them here: Lucy’s money goals – short, mid and long term.
Here are seven good hearty suggestions in no particular order (to be read to the tune of a solid sounding brass band)
1. An emergency fund.
Ah the emergency fund! It’s a great idea, yet so few of us have one. The general rule of thumb is that an emergency fund should have 3-6 months worth of income in to cover all your needs if you can’t work for a bit.
But don’t let that daunt you. Just a few hundred in the bank will still be a cushion for most eventualities. The washing machine breaking down, a new boiler, a forgotten bill. Spare money cushions the blow.
Tip: Can you give up something to free up the money for this? I stopped drinking sparkling wine last month and saved £50! (Not sure I’ll be able to keep it up, but you get the idea)
2. Get out of debt
Debt sucks. End of. I don’t really subscribe to the good debt bad debt argument. Most of us would be better off without it. Get rid of debt and you get rid of your obligations, have peace of mind, have all your income to save, spend, invest and do what you want with. It’s easier to change job, downsize and take a sabbatical. This is an excellent goal!
Tip: Even if this isn’t your dream goal, make sure all your credit cards are at 0% interest if you have them. That way you’re paying off the actual debt with every payment you make.
3. Plan for early retirement.
I want to be do stuff until I die. But I’d like that stuff to be what I want to do. Work isn’t bad per se, but you want to be doing the work you want to do. The freedom to start choosing your work is the Don of Dreams.
Tip: If early retirement isn’t your thing, at least do the basic sums to work out what you need to retire later and whether you are on track for that. It honestly doesn’t take long. There are links to lots of retirement calculators in my article about how to retire early – take a peek.
4. Create multiple income streams
I love this goal! If you want more money, make more money! Doing jobs on the side can help you pay off debts, invest in your retirement fund, enable you to quit your day job. Get yourself an income portfolio, or in less financial lingo “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.
Tip: Check out my list of 75 side hustles to whet your whistle. Or if you are a Pinterest junkie, have a look at this Side Hustles and Working from Home Board for loads of excellent suggestions and inspiration.
5. Be able to live on less than you earn.
Why is this at number five? This should be at number one. Mentally make this number one if you can… This is the most important goal you should be striving for if you don’t already do it. Once you live on less than you earn, you have leftover money, which means you can allocate it to growing it. Growing money = more money.
Tip: To do this it is so so so helpful to have a budget. You don’t have to have a spreadsheet, you can use an app or post-its. Or download somebudget printables here.
“Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!” “We’re losing him!” “CLEAR!”
OK I might have lost you with this one. It’s not a very exciting goal. But it is awful, Awful, AWFUL when life hits you with a curveball and you’ve not got the support system in place to tackle it. Even the most basic level of insurance can protect you.
Tip: Some people are over-insured. Some under. You only want to pay insurance for what you need. E.g. I never buy extended warranties because my emergency fund is there to pay for new machinery when it conks out. Pay the money into that, you don’t need an extended guarantee.
7. A financial plan for your will
This one won’t put money in your pocket but it will serve two very awesome purposes.
- It will gather all your financial resources into one place which will help you with budgeting and managing your finances.
- It will greatly simplify your family’s life if they are unfortunate enough to lose you.
Tip: Try Mama Fish Saves’ brilliant financial binder for $29. The details are on the webpage, but this is a great all in once resource for collating and documenting your admin.
For UK readers, there is a UK option coming soon – sign up to my newsletter if you want to be told about it. It will be cheapy cheap.
A side order of tips for setting financial goals
You need money coming in. Passive would be nice.
You need to pay off those draining debts.
You need protection against catastrophes.
You need a to set aside a bit of money to grow it every year.
Put the goals into your own words and don’t be generic. “£5k in the bank” is more specific than “be a bit more secure” and it sounds much more achievable because it’s less woolly.
Choose goals that FIRE YOU UP! If you want to reach them, you’ll be more likely to stick to your guns.
Here are some I like:
“I want to be a property millionaire by the time I am 45.”
“I want to £100k in my pension by the time I am 40”
“All my credit cards gone by 2020”
“I want to earn $500 a month in passive income by the end of the year”
Write them down.
Your Goals. One Piece of Paper. Let’s Do It.
Writing down your goals is important because people that write this stuff down are 42% more likely to put it into action. Research shows that committing things to paper is much more effective than just making a mental note. So it’s up to you, but for me if there’s even a tiny chance it’s going to make a difference to me having more money in the not too distant future, I’m going to write this shizzle down.
- List your financial goals.
You can just have one, or you can have a few. If you’ve got a few, you can separate them out by timeframe:
Short Term Goals (Less than 6 months)
Medium Term Goals (6 months to 2 years)
Long Term Goals (2 months plus)
- Put a figure on it.
If your goal is to pay off debts or save money, write the amount you need to pay off or save. Play with Auntie Google if you need to do some research.
If the goal is to make money, put a figure on it so you can track back and work out how you’re going to get there.
2. Give yourself a deadline
When do you hope to achieve each goal. Set a date. This may change when you do the next step!
3. Break it down into monthly/ weekly chunks
Depending on whether you are paid monthly or weekly, divide the money you need to save or pay off by the number of months/weeks you have until your deadline. That’s what you need to save each month/week.
If it’s too much, you might need to extend your deadline to make it more realistic.
4. Write out the full goal with the what, when, and how so that you have a clear task to do.
e.g. “Save $1,500 total for the Mallorca holiday trip by putting $100 a month into the holiday savings account for next 15 months (except December).”
5. Make it happen!
This is where having a budget is really useful. If you have a budget, you can take a look at it to see where you can cut a few costs to make room for this goal.
If you don’t have a budget, then take the money out to achieve your goal as soon as you get paid. Make sure there is enough for the rent and bills and then economise on the rest.
6. Smile as you realise that you are now actually turning your dreams into a reality.
It is a great feeling.
Budgets are much cooler than they sound.
There is a most wonderfully named website about budgeting:
It’s worth a look for some great advice on budgeting and money all written in a rockstar tone.
People who are good with money don’t mind budgets because they help them get to where they want to go.
Having a budget makes sorting out your money so easy and it gets easier once you get used to it. Even enjoyable. Honest.
If you are a budget-phobe it might be because you think it has to be on a spreadsheet. It doesn’t.
Here are as many ways as I can think of to do a budget that don’t involve spreadsheets:
- Use an app like: Mint, MoneyDashboard, Yulu???,
- Look at your bank statements and categorise your expenses on paper.
- Use a printable to make a pretty budget.
- Write it on coloured post-its on your fridge. Might be a bit basic, but better than no budget.
When you see what you’re spending your money on, you can work out what to cut back.
Last month I cut back around £70 from bringing in leftovers and salads to work, for around half my lunches. I only did it when the leftovers were nice or I had the energy to make a nice salad. It wasn’t a hardship because the lunches were yummy and I didn’t force myself to do it every day.
What could you cut back on?
Summary and thoughts that didn’t belong in any other category
Writing down financial goals should be exciting! I think they are because they’re all about you getting to a better place than where you are at now.
The main thing is to choose the goals that you are most committed to and stick at them. We all get months where things happen that we didn’t expect – an extra bill or the holiday was a bit punchier than expected. It won’t be the end of the world if you can’t pay into your emergency fund for one month. Just try and pick it up again the month after.
The plan can be changed. Goals can be updated. They are a guide not a rod for your back. Or as I like to think of it:
A money plan is a route map to dreams.
P.S. If you just want an out-of-the-box list of goals that you can tweak or twizzle to your personal circumstances, drop me a line. It’s a starting point, and sometimes that’s all you need to fly.