Setting and Achieving Financial Goals
Financial security, whether that’s for a business or an individual, requires planning. You need to know where you want to be, where you are now, and how to cross the gap between the two places. Having goals and a plan makes it more likely that you’ll achieve financial security–whatever that means to you.
Here are some steps to setting your financial goals.
1. Be specific with what you want
It’s easy to say you want “financial security” but what does that mean to you? After all, financial security can mean different things to different people. Do you want money to cover your retirement? Do you want enough cash that you can handle emergencies? Do you want to live a lavish lifestyle or are you planning on downsizing?
Once you know your big goal, write out what that actually looks like to you. How much money do you feel you’ll need in retirement to cover your lifestyle? How much would make you comfortable? If you’re not sure what you’d need, talk to your financial advisor, who can ask you the questions and provide you with the guidance you need to determine how much money you should be planning for.
Remember that the most actionable goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). Know when you want to retire, for example, how much money you’ll need and how much you can realistically save by that time.
2. Write your list of goals and put each in a category
Some goals are short-term, some are medium-term and some are long-term. Planning for a vacation this year is a short-term goal, while retirement planning is long-term. Once you know what your goals are, put them in a category based on whether they are short-, medium-, or long-term goals. This will help you plan how much you need to set aside to achieve each, and what sort of timeline you’re looking at.
3. Determine your assets and debts
If you’re like most people, you likely have both assets and debts. Achieving your financial goals won’t be as simple as saving money. You’ll have debts you need to pay off. In the past, people often focused on paying off their debts, but that meant there wasn’t as much money set aside for the future.
Before you can map out a plan to achieve your goals, you need to know where you are currently. How much money do you have available to you? How much are you bringing in monthly? What are your expenses? What debts do you have and what are the interest rates?
Take stock of money flowing into and out of your accounts over a few months. Where do you spend the most money? Are there places you could cut back?
4. Build a plan to help you reach your financial goals
This can be a difficult step to take on your own because your own patterns and habits might influence how you plan. It’s worthwhile to talk with a financial advisor, who can review your information and help you set up a path forward. They can also keep you accountable for achieving your financial goals, and assist you in addressing any emergencies that may arise. They will also identify areas where you could cut back and how to make your money go further for you.
By knowing what your goals are and having a plan to achieve them, you’re more likely to achieve financial security.