When a new year approaches, there is always that buzz that comes around; setting the New Year’s resolutions. Typically there is a lot of optimism that ‘this time round’ one will actually reach those goals.
But what happens down the year? A lot of these goals or resolutions remain unmet. This is in part, due to unavoidable events that occur along the way; you got a new baby perhaps, a medical emergency occurred, or some things that hadn’t been planned for which were unfortunate.
But hey! The occurrence of these events does not mean that your goals should be thrown out the window, just like that. They actually can be achieved even if you run into some headwinds.
What to do, you may ask? You need to set structured financial goals. Today we look at how to, properly, set financial goals.
Financial goals are the targets you need to be aiming for when managing your personal finances. It could be building a house, going on vacation, or becoming debt free. These financial goals don’t, necessarily, have to be tied to purchases. They could be:
Every-day expenses will always demand your attention, but they should not blind you from planning ahead. Making a budget and cutting down expenses with your goals in mind will make it easier to manage your spending.
Financial goals will keep reminding you of the reasons why you chose your particular financial journey. Intentional spending will not feel like deprivation when you cut down your clothing budget or when you decide to cook at home instead of ordering take out.
Your financial goals are your personal vision for your future, and rather than limiting you they actually create order in your life.
Usually, these goals take a year or less to achieve and are mostly more attainable than mid-term and long term goals. These types of goals can also be classified as your more immediate expenses, because they tend to cover the general things that you are likely to spend money on.
Some short term goals include starting to make payments into an emergency fund, covering your rent in advance, travel costs or any repairs and home renovations you may be looking to make.
These goals may take about three to five years to attain. Mid-term goals vary from person to person, and the timeframe can change depending on what kind of goal it is.
An example is an emergency fund. The need to have an emergency fund may not be there at the moment but you may want to set one up in a few years. Some people might have a goal of saving Ksh500,000 to start investing, while others may have a goal of Ksh300,000 to buy a small piece of land.
Other mid-term goals may include buying a vehicle, saving for down payment on a piece of property, and paying off large debt.
Long term goals, typically, take more than 5 years, maybe even a decade as these goals cover costs that paint a much larger overall picture. For example, you might want to save enough from a side job to cover for all your current and future expenses.
These goals involve a lot of money and a lot of attention as compared to short and mid-term goals. Another example may include your retirement fund or saving up for the education of your children.
Many experts recommend writing down goals to help you to keep yourself accountable. Once you’ve seen the goal in front of you, you will most likely commit to it. Having to write it down lets you go back to it for review or a reminder any time you need it. Once the big goal is put on paper, a detailed action plan should be created that will get you to the final goal. That is why you need to develop a goal chart.
A goal chart is a representation of what goals you have and how you’re going to achieve them. They may be simple, a bit complex or even technological. The goal chart makes a visual impact on you, motivating you to follow the steps thereby making the chart successful.
Goals act as a road map to the picture that you want for your future. They can be set for the long-term or the short-term, and can be broken down into the smaller steps. It is of much help to write down your goals for clarity as you develop a goal chart, as it is a visible reminder of what you have done and where you are heading.
All through the process, keep looking back at the goal chart you made but be a little flexible with yourself. The goals may change and you may have to adapt. Above all, stay motivated. The best goal-getters seldom lose sight of what’s waiting at the end.