Friday, November 9, 2007

Setting Goals For Financial Success

When it comes to finances, you have to have some goals. Otherwise, why would you be motivated to pay off your debt and save for your future.

Goals are what keep us looking towards the finish line, instead of focusing on each step we are taking. They push us forward.

Setting your financial goals isn`t a difficult thing. However, it does mean that you have to take the time to write them down and keep them in front of you every day. This is scary for many people. Something written means that if they fail, it is evident.

But you can`t start out with the idea of failure in mind. You can reach your goals. It isn`t difficult. But first, you need to work on them a little bit.

Start by taking the time to sit down and write out your financial goals. Goals are things that can be achieved. You need to be specific. Try to organize them in order of completion. You can easily expect to be out of debt sooner than you can expect to retire -- for most people. Keeping the goals in order allows you to check things off as you complete them.

Once you know what your goals are (paying off credit cards, saving for retirement, saving to buy a house), you should keep them in sight. Writing them down will not make them come true. You need to focus.

Break your goals down into actions that you can work on each week. For example, if your first goal is to pay off credit card debt, you need to break that down. Make a list of things you can do to make this happen.

It could say:

Pay off first credit card with money from savings account. Pay $100 extra a month on 2nd credit card to pay it off by June 2007. Put holiday bonus towards paying off 2nd credit card early.And so on.

The idea is that you are actively working on your goals. Without that work, you won`t get anywhere, you just have your goals.

Break your goals down by time as well. Don`t simply say you are going to retire in 20 years and would like to have enough money to live. Decide how much you need to contribute each year in order to live well. Then work to exceed this.

The more focused and detailed your goals are, the better chance you have of achieving the goals. Don`t go crazy with them, just make it so that you know what you need to do to get where you want to be. Think of it as a road map that tells you each road you need to take.

Your goals will change with time. This is alright. Finances are flexible. Money is never fixed. Adapt and move on. Create new goals. Be accountable and make a committment.

One of the best tips I have ever received on keeping a goal is to review it frequently. Put a list of your goals inside your checkbook so you look at it every time you think about spending money. Look at it weekly to see where you are and what you can do next week to make a dent. Believe me, once you have a goal complete, you will be empowered to complete the next one. It is a good feeling.

By Martin Lukac

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