Important Covid-19 Updates

Setting and Keeping Financial Goals

7/17/2017

Regardless of what stage of life you are in, keeping an eye on your financial goals is critical to your financial health and stability. Over the next few weeks we will be providing tips on budgeting, reducing debt, investing, and more... but first and foremost, you need to establish your financial goals.

Here are our tips to help you establish, evaluate, and pursue your financial goals. If you are married, make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. It will be exponentially harder to accomplish your goals without the support of your partner. Develop a plan together and evaluate your progress throughout the year.

 

Set your priorities.

Start creating a list of the things you want to accomplish financially. At this point, no goal is too big or too small. Just start figuring out what it is you want to achieve with your money.

 

Establish short-term, mid-term and long-term goals.

Saving for the immediate future might be easy, but what about those big future goals? Know where you're heading in the long-run so you can plan your path appropriately.

  • Short-term goals (1-2 years) might include: a new outfit for a special occasion, a car repair, furniture, or paying off a car loan.
  • Mid-term goals (3-10 years) might include: buying a house or vehicle, starting a family, paying off student debt, starting a business or new career, or going on a dream vacation.
  • Long-term goals (10+ years) might include: retirement, paying for your children's education, estate planning, or getting out of significant debt.

As you begin to plan out these goals, make sure they are SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. If possible, get these goals in front of a financial advisor to help prioritize and plan.

 

Create a goal-focused budget.

Saving money is much easier when you have a clear structure of where your money can go. The standard rule of thumb is the 50/20/30 rule:

  • No more than 50% of your income should go toward essentials (housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, childcare)
  • No less than 20% of your income should go toward saving for financial goals
  • No more than 30% should be spent on nonessential lifestyle elements (entertainment, shopping, gifts, etc.)

Once you've calculated these budgets, think about the best way to enforce them. Each person's spending habits are different, so this may take some time and personal reflection.

If you have money leftover at the end of the month, put it into a rainy-day savings account or toward your long-term goal account. Just because you have spare cash does not mean you have to spend it.

 

Make it easy on yourself.

Savings plans and budgets are much easier to stick to when they're effortless!

  • If you have direct deposit, set it to put 20% into your savings account. You won't see the money in your checking account so you won't be as tempted to spend it. If you don't have direct deposit, use the SSB app to automatically transfer a certain amount into savings. Think of it as a payment to yourself.
  • Schedule monthly bills (credit cards, utilities, loan payments) for automated payments. This will help cut down on your stress and reduce the risk of late fees or credit score damage.
  • Use the SSB app for alerts when you are approaching your budget limit. It will help hold you accountable and keep you aware of how you are tracking.

 

Stay on top of your goals.

Life happens, and you might not hit your savings goals each month. If something comes up and you're not able to put the full amount of money toward your savings account (or if you have to dip into your savings account), don't give up. Reevaluate your budgets, timelines and strategies for achieving your goals.

Make any necessary changes (or talk with a financial advisor) to get back on track and make up any lost ground.