Every one of us has our own financial goals and dreams. The generic one that I hear a lot, and which I myself use, is to be financially independent or to achieve financial freedom. Some would say to be debt-free, which I dream of every 15th and end of the month when I have to pay my bills.
These are all things we hope for. These are not financial goals, these are our financial dreams. They are not concrete enough that it leads us nowhere. We need to be able to visualize and plan for our financial goals in order to achieve them. Dreams can be the beginning of your goals if you allow them to push you forward to attain everything you hope for: be it a wonderful trip, owning your home, getting a new car, going back to school having your own business, or going for early retirement.
Definition of a Financial Goal
A financial goal is your objective expressed in money. This is the final financial destination which you would want to attain. Even a generic goal of being debt-free, or having financial freedom, can be measured monetarily. If you include making plans on how to achieve these dreams, they become your goals. Not all of our goals can be achieved right away. Simple ones are easy to fulfill, but we also have huge dreams and goals that we want to achieve as well. You can create two financial goals: short-term and long-term.
Guide in Goal Setting
Your goals should be SMART. Use this to guide you in setting your goals. Have goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Questions you may ask yourself when setting your goals and objectives are: What? Where? How? When? With whom? Why?
Specific – what exactly do you want to achieve? You can say: “I will save $500 so I will not use my credit card for Christmas shopping.” rather than “I will go shopping and probably pay my credit card bill later.”
Measurable – you need to identify what it is you want to achieve, and break them down into measurable elements. Being financially free is not measurable. You can say you will start paying off your $5,000 debt by canceling your credit cards, stop using them and paying off the balance in two years.
Attainable – Is your goal attainable? Can you make use of your time and talents to gain the monetary requirement to attain your goal? If you are currently making $50,000 per year and aiming to pay your $50,000 credit card debt in two years, can that be done if you don’t have any plans of finding additional resources in generating more income?
Relevant – is your goal relevant to you? Do you aim to be a multimillionaire with a clerical job? Or would you aim to look for a business venture that can help you reach your goals? Are you willing to attain more skills, do more learning, and work harder? Remember, the quality of your input will predict your output.
Timely – set yourself a deadline to fulfill your goals. If you want to pay off the $5,000 balance of your credit card in two years, make sure you make a monthly payment of at least $225 + interest due every month.
Here is an example of a SMART Goal: I will save $200 per month for two years so I can take my family to a vacation in Hawaii. I am specific in what I will do – save; measured by putting in $200 monthly and it is an attainable value in relation to my monthly salary; it’s relevant to me because it will allow me to spend time with my family and I set a deadline of two years to fulfill this goal.
We all have things we need to achieve in the near future. If you think about them, all these can be given its dollar value. They can be as simple as having a very extraordinary date night or paying off a huge chunk of your credit card bills. Start off with a list of goals that can be achieved within the next few months or up to five years. That list may include these:
- Christmas shopping
- Spring Break trip with friends
- Paying off credit card debts and student loans
- Putting money into the emergency fund
- Saving money as a down payment for a house
- Being able to open life, critical illness, and disability insurance
- Starting a retirement fund
- Starting a business venture
Major goals in life that come with a huge chunk of monetary value can be attained by saving and spending wisely. These goals include:
- Paying off mortgage
- Funding for children’s college
- Continuously saving for retirement
- Major travels and tours
Get it in Writing
Having your goals written down is very important. This list will remind you of what you want to achieve. As Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, states: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” Read these daily and your brain will be rewired and focused on achieving these goals. Your written goals will influence your actions: you will notice a switch from being a spender to a saver, be more aware of the opportunities that come your way, and be more open to exploring the possibilities provided by these opportunities.
Your Financial Map
Look at your written goals every day. These goals can change over the long run as you change your priorities in life. You may think that getting a brand new, high-powered engine car should be very high on your list. But as you mature and grow in your financial awareness, this may not be as important as you initially think.
There are goals that you are not able to achieve in time due to setbacks. But don’t get discouraged. Just adjust your timeline and continue with your perseverance and hard work. All of these will eventually pay off.
Believe that you can achieve your goals. The mind is a very powerful tool in pushing us to achieve the most success you can ever think of. As Henry Ford said: “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”. So why not trick your mind in believing that all your goals are achievable. These are God-given dreams and you are equipped with the talent to make them into a reality.