We’ve been hitting up the Spendaholic’s Guide to Managing your Money here on NewsOne.com. In part I of the series, we started the conversation regarding how to budget your money. I am currently shooting a financial planning series for MSNBC, so this topic is heavy on my mind these days. One thing you have to understand is that you don’t have to be perfect or completely disciplined when it comes to learning how to get ahead financially. The reason I refer to the recovering spendaholic is because I am a recovering spendaholic myself. I’ve always loved spending money and I never stopped, even as I started to put together a little dough. The difference, however, is that I learned the art of moderation, and I also took baby steps to overcome my own weaknesses, which were keeping me from reaching my personal objectives. It’s a day-to-day process, and baby steps are the way to go. So, I am not speaking on this as a finance professor, I am speaking to you as someone who understands what it feels like to have serious financial weaknesses. I do believe, however, that if you want something bad enough, you will be willing to sacrifice in order to get it.
In part II, we’ll dig a little deeper into two specific steps you can take to start reaching your financial goals:
1) Create a list of financial goals for yourself and your family
- Your goals should be specific, not general. For example, a bad goal is “I want to save more money”. A good one is “I want to save $5,000 by the end of the year.” The more precise you are with your goal, the easier it is to see the vision that lies in front of you.
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- Try to involve the entire family in your goal setting process: Kids should learn how to set financial goals early, perhaps with their allowance. You should definitely involve your spouse in the process. Everyone should be a part of what you are trying to do.
- Set long, medium and short-term goals. Long-term can be more than 2 years. Medium is 6 months to 2 years. Short is less than 6 months. Your short term goals should be “baby versions” of your medium term goals, and your medium term goals should be shorter versions of your long-term goals. For example, let’s say that your goal is to have $15,000 in the bank within 3 years. Well, that is a long-term goal. The medium term goal might be to have $5,000 in one year. The short term goal can be to save $100 this week. All of the goals should work together.
2) Make a list of strategies to help you accomplish your goal
- A goal means nothing without a strategy of execution. It’s kind of like going to battle, but having no battle plan. If you are just dreaming and goal-setting without putting together a strategy, you will probably find yourself mingling with the other millions of people who dream, but never realize.
- Make a list of daily and weekly strategies you are going to use to reach your financial goals. They might be things like: “I am going to save 15% of every paycheck before paying any bills”, or “I am going to only use credit cards in the case of emergency, and when I do, I am going to pay the balance off immediately.”
- Your strategies and set of actions must be different from what you normally do. If you are giving the same as always, then you are going to get the same.
- Evaluate yourself on a weekly basis to see if you are sticking with your goals and plans. Any goal-setting process must consist of a feedback process.
You’ve now gotten steps I and II of the process of setting financial goals. Keep coming back to NewsOne.com for the rest of the process. Remember that a man or woman without a goal is a person who is simply waiting to die. Don’t just wait to die, make sure you go out and live. Life is too short to be mediocre.