Even though it’s a busy time for most of us, it’s also a great time to consider (or reconsider) our life goals, especially as they relate to how we use our precious resources – time, energy and money. And, in reality, these resources may be interchangeable depending on how we determine to allocate them.
So let’s make a list of some near term goals that will help to shape thinking about money goals for next year – here we go:
1. Contact your financial institutions (banks, lenders, credit card vendors) to access reviews of spending over the past 12 months
2. Record in total from these review sources what has been spent in various areas such as housing, food (including eating out), recreation, debts and so forth
3. Assess whether or not the actual spending matches your values and any goals that were set up last year or at some earlier time – this can be accomplished by checking any past household budget that exists.
Once this assessment of past behavior is completed, it will be pretty simple to see what values drove the past year’s spending. If these values do not reflect what is really important going forward, then it’s time to dig in and do what it takes to make a goal a reality – it’s time to make a plan!
Follow these simple steps to get from setting financial goals to seeing them come to reality:
– Make a budget – it’s easy and there are tons of apps and other tools available for this step
– Seek online resources to determine the recommended percentages for US households
– Starting January 1st, write down literally every single penny spent and check often to assure you are sticking to the budget
– If the budget isn’t working, adjust it so that it does work or seek assistance from a financial professional such as a non-profit credit counselor or financial planner who can provide some guidance in realistic budgeting – this part takes time so be patient with the process, but stick to it!
– Once the budget begins to stabilize, then new opportunities arise for saving, giving and working to further clarify values on an ongoing basis.
Although these are very basic goals to get started this next year, it’s like any other life change that needs to be addressed. Starting simple and with basics is critical before reaching for higher financial goals.
Yes, without a plan a goal is absolutely useless.