Tips for Creating a Clear Vision and a Strong Plan
We often view the New Year as brimming with the promise of new beginnings, second chances, and plentiful opportunities. While resolutions can impact many parts of our lives, personal finance is a common one to tackle and many people find themselves setting financial goals. No matter what your resolutions focus on, research shows that roughly 80% of us will abandon our resolutions by mid-February. As that time marker approaches, here are ways to ensure you’re beating the statistic and keeping your financial goals going well into 2023.
Assess Where You Are
To begin setting financial goals, you must first have a clear understanding of where you’re starting from. For many, this can be the scariest task to complete, especially if you’ve been avoiding addressing your finances for a while. However, you’ll feel better once you know for sure what exactly it is that you’re working with.
Sit down and look through all your savings, debts, and investments. Write out how much money is coming in and from where, as well as how much money is going out and to where. This will provide you with the foundation you need to begin to make real and lasting changes that align your actions with your goals.
Reflect on Where You Want to Go (And What You Need to Do to Get There)
This is the step where you begin writing down your goals, both short- and long-term. However, simply writing them down is not enough. You need to make a plan for how you intend to achieve each goal. It’s about being intentional with your actions and then applying the discipline necessary to follow through on your plans.
Here are some tips to get you started setting financial goals:
- Prioritize Your Goals. Chances are there’s a lot you’re looking to accomplish, but it’s unlikely that you can give all your goals 100% simultaneously. So, you’ll have to prioritize. Write down everything you want to accomplish – from the most practical like buying a house or eliminating your debt, to the most whimsical, like going on that Alaskan cruise or buying that fancy car. Then, highlight what’s most important to you.
- Be Specific. Specificity matters when you’re setting financial goals! If you want to pay off your debt, how much do you want to pay off, and by what date? How much does that translate into paying each month? Each week? If you want to revisit your investments, give yourself a deadline for rebalancing your portfolio. Being detailed with your goals will provide you with the framework you need for your financial planning while also holding you accountable as you move forward.
- Be S.M.A.R.T. With Your Strategy. If you want to set reasonable and actional goals, make sure you’re being M.A.R.T.; that is, make sure your steps are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. The more detailed you were with your goal setting, the easier this will be.
- Build a Budget. If your financial plan is the roadmap toward your financial goals, then your budget is the vehicle taking you there. No matter what your finances look like, living on a budget is crucial if you want to be sure that you’re heading in the right direction. It’s also a helpful way to hold yourself accountable.
Remember to revisit your goals and budget regularly. Taking a “set and forget” approach isn’t likely to help you achieve your aspirations.
Making Your Financial Goals a Reality
No matter how detailed you were with your goal setting or how thorough your plans are, they won’t work if you’re not disciplined about following them through. This is where most people end up failing with their resolutions, so it’s important that you take great care to stay diligent if you want to beat the statistics.
Here are some tips to help ensure you stay on track:
- Write down your end goals and put them somewhere where you’ll see them regularly to remind yourself what it is you’re working towards.
- List out the exact steps you need to take to get from where you are to those final goals. This is where your S.M.A.R.T. strategy will really come into play. You’ll want to create a timeline for how long you expect it to take to achieve each goal, along with important deadlines that you want to be hitting. It may help to get a calendar that you can have on hand for easy reference, or you could use a calendar app on your phone.
- Determine how much money you’ll need to achieve each goal and divide that by the number of years, months, and weeks in your timeline. This will allow you to create deadlines for yourself to ensure that you’re staying on track.
- Consider creative ways that you can boost your finances – whether that’s cutting expenses or monetizing a hobby.
Don’t forget to mark your progress as you go along and reward yourself when deserved. This will help you keep your motivation high as you work toward your larger goals.
Final Thoughts on the Importance of Setting Financial Goals
No matter what your money goals center around, a strong financial goal requires a detailed plan in place to achieve it. It may seem tedious but taking the time to put an incremental plan with measurable steps onto paper increases the chances that you’ll stay on track and beat the odds. The more intentional you are with your planning, the more invested you’ll be in having a successful outcome. The only person standing in your way is you.
Are you setting financial goals that center around your investment portfolio? At Davidson Capital Management, we provide investment management experience and knowledge to help you move forward with confidence. If you’d like to talk with one of our professionals about how you can strengthen your investment strategy and plan for your financial future, schedule a Discovery call with us today.