Just about anyone you ask will most likely admit to having financial goals. After all, everyone wants to have a good handle on their finances, and even those who are financially secure often feel as if there is more they can be doing in order to push their financial stability in a forward direction. What most people don’t want to admit, however, is that they most likely aren’t doing what it takes to reach the goals they’ve set for themselves. It’s an extremely common problem, and as one’s financial life gets more complicated, goals can seem even more difficult to reach.
As one might expect, the main reason why people have a hard time reaching the financial goals they set for themselves is because they simply don’t know where to start. Change can be a difficult thing to embrace, and just getting things off the ground is often the most difficult aspect of the situation. If you’re careful about the choices you make and start truly putting in the work, however, you’ll find that meeting the financial goals you set for yourself isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think.
While every person’s financial situation is unique, there are a few things that most people can benefit from taking into consideration when trying to improve their financial health. Take the following tips, for example, each of which can be an asset to helping you meet your goals.
1. Make a concrete list of your goals.
One of the things that often gets in the way for those who are looking to shift their finances in a more positive direction, is a lack of organization. After all, it’s difficult to track progress and see actual change when you aren’t writing things down in great detail and keeping up with the steps you’re taking to work towards change. If you have a spouse, it’s important that you talk this over, so you’re both on the same page.
Making a concrete list of your goals and set deadlines. Make three buckets — short-, mid- and long-term goals. Some common goals include funding a vacation, buying a house, or saving for retirement. The next step is to determine how much money you need for each of these goals. Then list your goals in order of importance and determine how long it will take you to save, and break it down to a monthly figure.
Each month or each quarter, review your progress and see if there are any adjustments you can make. Are there any more unnecessary expenses you can cut out? Is your goal of saving the amount, realistic?
The more you’re able to stay on top of the progress you’re making, the less likely it is that you’ll fall off and end up back where you started.
2. Start utilizing self-restraint.
Anyone who makes a fair amount of money knows just how tempting it can be to spend it. The old adage of money burning a hole in one’s pocket still rings true today, as it can be difficult to turn down the opportunity to buy a nice dinner, new furniture or wardrobe updates. If you really want to see change in your financial situation, however, you have to do whatever you can to start utilizing self-restraint. Self-restraint doesn’t come easy to those who have who have trouble managing their money, and more often than not, it’s the biggest issue that gets in the way of obtaining financial freedom.
Self-restraint doesn’t come naturally to people, so the simplest way to get better at is to practice. If you meet with friends three times a week for drinks, try lowering that number to one or two times. After a few weeks, try not going out at all. Try to find productive and less expensive distractions, like meeting friends at your house, rather than the bar, or going for a long walk or run after work.
The importance of budgeting simply cannot be overemphasized in this regard, and you’ll get a lot of mileage out of checking in with your budget each and every day. Maintaining awareness is the key to “making it” and restraining yourself from overspending, and it becomes second nature after a while.
3. Separate tasks into building blocks.
When you find yourself faced with a huge task, knowing where to start can often be the most difficult aspect of getting things off the ground in the first place. Financial battles can be long and involved, however, and it’s important to realize that things will most likely not resolve themselves overnight.
Because of this, it’s exceptionally important to separate your tasks into “building blocks,” breaking things down to the point where you handle them one section at a time. This will ensure that you don’t end up getting overwhelmed and that each and every aspect of the process is handled to its fullest extent possible.
Just remember to give yourself plenty of time and don’t set deadlines for yourself that you’ll be unable to reach, and you should end up being just fine.
4. Work with a professional.
So many people go into fixing their finances with the idea that they’ll be able to do so on their own, and in many cases, there can be truth to this sentiment. Just about everyone, however, can benefit from working with a professional who has a strong handle on the steps that must be taken in order to achieve financial stability.
Financial advisors come in all different shapes and sizes, and it’s usually possible to find one who can be a good fit for you. There are financial advisors who handle extensive portfolios, for example, but there are also those who can simply help you to start making smart financial decisions, regardless of how much money you make in a year’s time. Working with a financial professional isn’t always the cheapest route to take, but it’s typically the most effective.
5. Forge a relationship with a brick and mortar bank.
There’s a lot of questioning among consumers these days regarding where they should be doing their banking. Online banks are growing in popularity, while large banks remain important in their own right. Most people will say that the best route to take in terms of choosing a bank is to have an account with both an online bank and a brick and mortar institution, but the importance of forging a strong relationship with the latter sometimes goes overlooked.
Indeed, you can make a lot of headway for improving your financial health if you have a good relationship with a brick and mortar bank, as this will increase your chances of getting loans, finding good interest rates and more. Sometimes, it simply takes that personal touch that you might not find in an online bank, even if online institutions do serve a very important purpose.
So don’t just sit back and think about the things you need to do to improve your financial situation. The sooner you get out there and start doing something about it, the closer you’ll be to reaching your goals!