7 Foolproof Ways to Meet Your Financial Goals This Year

It’s almost 2017! As we embark into a fresh new year, take a minute to reflect over the past year. Did you have financial goals? What did you do that worked? What didn’t work? How can you improve your finances, and life over the next year?

From personal experience I know how difficult it can be keeping up with new year’s resolutions and financial goals. To make it a little easier on you, I decided to share some foolproof ways to meet financial goals and stay focused throughout the year.

1. Create a Vision Board

Vision boards are visual representations of goals and dreams for your future. I created one on Pinterest last year, you can check it out here.

Luckily, there are several ways you can make your own vision board. You can have a physical poster board, or notebook in which you use visual representations (photos, drawings, magazine clippings etc.) to portray your goals and dreams for the future.

You can also create a virtual vision board and use photos and articles from the internet to represent what you want for the future. You can make one on Pinterest, use a note taking app such as Evernote or Google Keep, or a simple word document. Try different ideas and pick one that you like, if you choose to make a virtual vision board.

Creating a vision board is fun and relaxing! I encourage you to create a board in a medium that you understand and enjoy.

Why Vision Boards?

Vision boards allow us to imagine the future, and help us figure out what we want. If we know what we want to work towards, we can easily set goals.

Knowing what we want is a key step to achieving our dreams

Make Sure You Work on Your Vision Board Frequently

Set up your vision board to be a work in progress. Check it frequently, change it, and add to it throughout the year.

If you have visual ideas concerning your financial goals, and keep the ideas in the front of your mind, you will be more likely to achieve them.

2. Write Down Financial Goals

While this step may seem similar to a vision board, it is actually very different. Establishing a vision boards helps you imagine your future and figure out what you want. Writing down your financial goals, step by step helps you achieve your dreams.

For example, let’s say your dream is to buy your first home. First step is to do research and figure out the best way to buy a new home. You decide you want to have 20% as a down payment, have no debt, have an emergency fund, and be able to take out a 15 year fixed mortgage. You examine your situation, and decide you want to purchase a house for around $200,000. This means you will need to save $40,000 and pay off all current debts, and have an emergency fund. You will also need to be making enough money to pay for expenses, including utilities.

Now that you have an idea of what you need, you can write down your financial goals to help you get a house. Here is what it would look like in this hypothetical situation.
  • Ultimate Goal: Purchasing House for $200,000
    • Step 1. Pay off Debt
      • Debt 1
      • Debt 2
      • Debt 3
      • Debt 4
    • Step 2. Create an Emergency Plan
      • Save for 6 to 8 months expenses in case of an emergency
        • Create a plan to save x amount each month
    • Step 3. Save for a Down payment
      • Create a plan to save x amount each month
      • Establish a reasonable timeline
    • Step 4. Create Plan to Increase Income
      • Evaluate the following throughout the year
        • Can I make enough at current employer?
        • Is there room for job growth within my company?
        • Am I “happy” in this career?
          • If I am unhappy should I consider a career switch?
        • Do I want to create side income?
          • How would I go about creating side income?
          • How much extra income would I need to generate to pay for expenses?
          • Would it be worth spending the extra time every week?
    • Step 5. Get Financing and Purchase Home
      • Research interest rates and mortgage companies
      • Find a great realtor
      • Do research on properties in desired area

As you can see with this example, having a detailed plan will help you focus and figure out how to achieve your financial goals and dreams.

Create a Plan that Works for You, One your Brain Understands

The previous example was just a general idea on how to break down goals. Write down a plan in any form that works for you. Make a bullet journal or use a note taking app like Evernote, or Google Keep. I have also created folders in the past on my computer and just used documents.

Please write your financial goals down, and check these goals frequently. If you want to stay on track and really meet your financial goals this year, keep ideas fresh in your memory.

By keeping  financial goals fresh in your mind, you will be more likely to stick with your goals and really achieve your dreams this year!

3. Budget!

I know, budgeting is tedious and annoying, but very important to achieving financial goals. If you want to be successful you need to be purposeful with spending. Every dollar should have a purpose!

If you are new to budgeting and don’t know where to start I will be creating a series of posts soon, in the meantime here are some ideas from my Pinterest Budget Board.

The key to having a successful budget is that you make sure every dollar made has a purpose. Even if the purpose is to go out and have fun once a week, you know where every dollar is spent.

The great thing about having a budget is that you can establish a plan that works for you. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

4. Replace Bad Spending Habits with Good Ones

Many years ago I wanted to get healthy so I decided to only eat fruits and vegetables (raw). The life style change was so drastic, I was miserable. I was hungry all the time, and started craving the weirdest foods. Although I lost weight, I ended up giving up and gaining it all back within a couple of months. I learned that extreme lifestyle changes simply don’t work for most of us.

Similarly, budgeting and changing financial habits works the same way. In order to change bad habits, good habits need to slowly replace them.  This doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and energy to recognize and replace bad spending behaviors.

That is why I encourage everyone to have a vision for the future, write down goals, and budget where the money should be spent. If you don’t pay attention to where your money is going, and it doesn’t have a purpose, money seems to disappear into thin air.

I had a friend that made an extra $1,500 a month above his expenses (rent, gas, utilities, and food) for 8 months. Hypothetically, it would have been possible for him to save around $12,000, but he was only able to save $3,000. When I asked him what he did with all that extra money ($9,000), he stated he didn’t really know. He knew he bought computers, new phones, games, and went out to eat almost every day, but didn’t think it added up to be that much. In reality it’s the little, frequent expenses that cost us the most.

Replace Old Expensive Habits, with Fun Cost Effective Ones

Above all, the key is to replace old habits with fun new habits you enjoy. I used to be a terrible cook, but now I love to cook, and have been able to recreate my favorite restaurant food! I made meal prep an enjoyable time by listening to my favorite music and podcasts, and discovering new dishes via the internet and Pinterest. By associating meal prep and cooking with fun, I was able to replace eating out frequently (which is a bad spending habit) to cooking my own meals at home (which can be a good spending habit).

Luckily, there are many ways you can change bad spending habits. It’s most important to replace old habits with fun new ones instead of just stopping that habit. That way you won’t feel like you are “lacking” and you will be more likely to stick to your budget and goals.

I encourage you to make a list of 3 to 5 “bad” spending habits, and figure out a way you can replace them with better ones. If you need help coming up with ideas contact me HERE and I would be happy to help you think of ideas!

5. Balance is Key

If you want to meet financial goals, you need to have a balanced lifestyle. That includes enjoying yourself. Make sure that you celebrate yourself throughout the year.

It is ok to “splurge” once in awhile, as long as it doesn’t have a huge impact on your finances, and you budget for it.

Even though I am working diligently to pay off debt, I still go to movies and out to dinner once in awhile. I know it is not a “necessity” but I believe you need to have fun and enjoy life, as long as you’re still meeting goals.

I encourage everyone to add a category into their budget for “entertainment”. It doesn’t have to be a large one, and it is vital that all other categories are given more priority. For instance, if you can’t pay your mortgage you definitely can’t afford to go to a movie.

In my opinion, you should also give yourself small rewards for meeting goals (positive reinforcement). If you cross off another debt, or get a promotion, treat yourself. Make sure that your rewards are small until your goals are met, just something little you enjoy such as dinner or a movie.

I firmly believe that if we learn to enjoy our life, and don’t feel “deprived” we will be more likely to stick with a budget and meet financial goals.

6. Learn to Have Fun Without Spending Money

If you really want to meet financial goals, you need to find happiness without feeling the need to spend a ton of money. I am guilty of “getting bored” and wanting to go spend money on activities or things. Luckily, I have learned that spending money does not create happiness. It may create temporary satisfaction, but in the long run, it just doesn’t matter.

This year, I encourage you to find joy in activities that don’t cost money. There are a lot of free things to do, and cost effective ways to have fun and enjoy your life. Here are some ideas: go to parks, spend time in nature, utilize the library and their free programs, join meetup groups, learn a new language, listen to podcasts, dance in your living room, take walks, grow your own food, write a book, make a bullet journal, learn how to draw, watch youtube videos, learn a new skill, spend time on Pinterest, play board games, take advantage of community events, learn how to fix something, take a long drive with a loved one, tell ghost stories, have a campfire in your backyard.

As you can see, the ideas are endless. You don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to have fun and enjoy life.

I mentioned earlier that the key to forming good habits, by replacing old, destructive habits with new ones.

I encourage you to replace two regular activities that you used to spend money on, with two new free or low cost activities. Find two activities you really enjoy and participate in these activities regularly.

Learning to have fun without spending money will help you meet your financial goals this year.

7. Be Accountable

Another important aspect that will help you stick to your financial goals throughout the year is having accountability.

If you don’t tell anyone your goals, and keep them secret, you are less likely to stick to it.

It could be helpful to have an accountability partner that will help you stick with your financial goals this year. If you don’t have a spouse or loved one on the same page as you, reach out to a friend or a close relative that will help keep you accountable. Even if you ask someone to listen to your goals, and ask you about them once in awhile, it will help you stay on track.

There are also plenty of online accountability groups on Facebook and other places that you can join. Please make sure that you NEVER give out any personal information such as bank account info, or other identifying information to ANYONE, no matter what!

You Will Be Successful This Year

2017 is going to be the best year yet! Whatever your financial goals are, I know you can meet them.

The foolproof way to meet your financial goals this year is to:

  1. Create a Vision Board
  2. Write Down Financial Goals
  3. Budget
  4. Replace Bad Spending Habits with Good Ones
  5. Balance Your Life
  6. Learn to Have Fun without Spending Money
  7. Be Accountable

By following these suggestions you will be able to really conquer 2017 and make this the most successful year ever!

happy new year from walletwhisperer

Cheers! Happy New Year!

What are your financial goals this year?

 

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