Setting financial goals that work for you

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You might not feel you are at a point in your life where you need to be setting financial goals or even worrying about your finances at all. However, planning for a secure financial future is something we all should be doing, and by setting financial goals we can retain control over most of our financial circumstances. Setting financial goals can also help if you have a sudden and unexpected expense, such as a medical bill, as you will be able to pay without necessarily needing to turn to a personal loan or another financial solution.

At the same time, many appreciate the value of setting financial goals, and actively look to save money on a monthly basis.

Setting Financial Goals that Work For You

The most important thing to consider when setting financial goals is that they are realistic relative to your personal circumstances. ‘Save $300 a month’ is an exciting sounding goal, but not everyone is going to be able to do it. By ensuring your personal financial goals sit firmly within what you are able to achieve, you will be more motivated to achieve them. That’s not to say you should set yourself what might be an easy goal of saving $10 a month so you can tell yourself at least you’re saving something! Look to find the perfect balance of something challenging yet motivating at the same time.

‘The most important thing to consider when setting financial goals is that they are realistic relative to your personal circumstances. By ensuring your personal financial goals sit firmly within what you are able to achieve, you will be more motivated to achieve them.”

Deciding Why You’re Saving

As noted earlier, one of the main reasons people don’t save or aren’t motivated to start saving is that they don’t feel they need or have reason to. If you don’t have a specific need or reason to save you can still do so, and call it your ‘rainy day’ or ‘emergency’ fund for when those unexpected life events and expenses do come out of the blue.

So far, we have spoken in terms of saving, but another financial goal you might wish to pursue is to rebalance how you spend your money. Instead of saying you’re going to save $12.99 a month by not using Netflix, you could say you’re going to use the $12.99 a month towards joining a sports club, for example. If you’re setting financial goals with your partner, you might look to save enough to be able to eat out together once a month.

Once you have an idea of realistic financial goals in relation to your circumstances, and whether these predominantly involve saving or rebalancing how and where you spend your money, you can start creating the personal financial goals that work for you.

Getting Specific and Challenging Yourself

Whether you’re rebalancing your spending or savings, it’s going to pay to be specific. By giving yourself vague financial goals such as ‘save some money,’ you’ll either end up like the $10 a month example above or not doing anything and saying that you will start tomorrow.

Using the examples we’ve already looked at and using some others, here are some financial goals you might want to consider:

  • I will save $300 a month for my savings account.
  • We will cancel our Netflix and Spotify subscriptions and use the saving to eat out once a month.
  • I will spend $20 less a week on groceries, saving $80 a month for my savings account.
  • I will buy a flask and take my own coffee to work, by not buying a coffee I will be saving $4 every morning.

The beauty of financial goals such as these is that they are simple, and it is easy to understand the impact even relatively small savings can have in the long term, and how you can use one financial goal to help you achieve another. By saving $20 a week on groceries and the same on a morning coffee, $160 of the $300 a month saving goal above has already been met.

How much and how easily could you save by making similar small changes?

You can also look at making bigger changes if you’re looking to save a significant figure. Might you have an opportunity to earn more money in another job, for example, which will then leave you more disposable income to either meet your financial goals easier or set yourself goals that are more challenging?

“Once you have set your financial goals the best way to be motivated is to think about them as short, medium, and long-term goals.”

Motivation

Once you have set your financial goals the best way to be motivated is to think about them as short, medium, and long-term goals. This can help you to focus your mind, and is particularly powerful if you are saving towards a big landmark purchase in your life.

Below are some brief examples of what might be considered as short, medium, or long-term goals. As with financial goals in general, where these fit for you will be specific to your own circumstances. Remember, the idea here is for these goals to work for you!

Short Term Goals

Think financial goals that you might like to achieve in the next 12 months. A short-term goal might be to save money in order to pay off a credit card or personal loan quicker, or to save towards a weekend break during the year.

Medium Term Goals

We’re now thinking three to five years in the future. If you’ve just taken out a personal loan, one of your goals may be to ensure you make the regular repayments on time and pay the loan off as soon as you can. If you currently don’t have any outstanding debt, you might want to save towards a deposit for a house or buying a car. Depending on your personal circumstances you might even choose to save towards a once in a lifetime holiday.

Long Term Goals

A big holiday might also be a long-term goal, but you could perhaps be starting to think about paying off your mortgage or your retirement, too.

Making Your Financial Goals Work for you

While there are several options available to you when it comes to setting financial goals, you should take time to consider the goals that will work for you and that are realistic and achievable. By setting specific goals that suit your circumstances, you will find yourself motivated and determined to reach them, and feel excited about the possibilities your financial goals can provide.

Disclaimer:  This article contains general comments and recommendations only. This article has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before taking any action you should consider the appropriateness of the comments made in the article, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. If this article relates to the acquisition, or possible acquisition, of a particular credit product you should obtain and consider the relevant disclosure documents before applying for the product.

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