Debt Help 101: Think S.M.A.R.T. and Set Financial Goals EarlyDec 03, 2014
Goals; simply defined are “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result”. We set all kinds of goals for ourselves every day. We meet daily goals at work, “I want to finish this report no later than 5 today” or at home “I’m going to start cleaning now so I can finish before 2pm”. Both of these tasks are outlined with a specific action and a measurable, realistic time frame to achieve it. These are fairly basic examples but the principles involved are important. The human brain is already used to performing a routine like this numerous times a day. For instance, you might not have realized it, but every time you arrive at a destination on time, you have achieved your goal. The same can be said when it comes to your finances, you may need help with debt and define an action plan (or goal) to pay it off.
Keeping in the spirit that goals are a normal process for us, you can apply these same principles from above when planning financial goals. Statements like “I want to make a million before I turn 55” (but you have no plan in place at 53) are not really goals, this is something you want to happen financially for you. Solid financial goals are both something that you want (define) and plan (implement) to achieve. They can be short-term, “I want to save $500 by Christmas” or long-term, “If I invest X every month, I can save $25,000 by 55.”
Think S.M.A.R.T. when setting all of your goals:
Setting successful goals starts with knowing exactly what you would like to achieve. If your goal is to start an education savings plan, do a little research and figure out how much you will need to save in total.
You have set your goal by determining the exact amount you need to save. Now find a way to measure your progress so you’ll know if you’re on track (or not) and can reach your goal on time.
With the above two questions answered, you can figure out which steps you need to take next to achieve your goal. In the case of an Education Savings plan, you can look into how much you will need to save each month to reach your goal.
While we would like to save $50,000, our research into savings plans says that realistically our budget can handle monthly contributions to save $15,000. Setting a goal realistically ensures that you are not setting yourself up to fail before you even start.
Give yourself a timeframe in which to reach your goals. Without an end date in mind, you are more likely to abandon your goals. This timeframe helps to keep you on track so you can stick with it and achieve your goals. You are also setting a personal challenge for yourself and are more likely to strive to reach it.
What would you like to achieve with your finances, over the next year? 10 years? 25 years? Start thinking S.M.A.R.T. and set goals for yourself now. If you are facing financial obstacles, part of the “action” required may include getting debt help so you can achieve your goals within the window of time you have given yourself. Look into other options to help, like sitting down with a credit counsellor or financial advisor to go over your finances so you can reach your financial goals even faster. Every journey starts with a single step. Start your journey towards financial stability and set your financial goals today using a Financial Goals Worksheet.
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