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How To: Setting Financial Goals

In order to attain a desired financial security and status, there is a great deal of planning that goes into it. This is where detailed financial goals come in. Goals allow you to set realistic end points and then develop an action plan to achieve them. Before you go setting goals there are a few things you need to consider. The steps below take you through the steps of how to create realistic financial goals that you can achieve both now and in the future.

Set Guidelines

Guidelines are the first step of setting your financial goals. Guidelines will keep you accountable, but also keep you from putting things out of your reach. There are a few parameters you will want to keep in mind.

First, be specific. Vague goals only muddle the process and will distract you.

Then, you will need to make sure the goals you set are measurable. If there is nothing to gauge your success of off, how will you know when you’ve gotten there?

Be honest with yourself. Set goals that are attainable. Lofty goals are great, but a lofty goal should still be possible with enough tenacity and planning.

Finally, have time constraints. If you do not set a deadline, nothing will get done. It’s in our nature to work harder for goals that have a reasonable, concrete deadline.

Identify Financial Goals

Now that you have guidelines in place, it’s time to think about what your goals actually are. What do you want to achieve? When identifying goals, ask yourself the tough questions about your finance to see where improvements can be made.

Here’s a few things to get your wheels turning:

How much would you need to save to stop working?
Are you happy with your spending habits or could you make a change?
Do you want to retire early? If so, what will you be comfortable living off of per year?

Once you have given your financial situation proper attention, it’s time to come up with goals. Your goals should range from short term to long term. Some goals should piggyback off each other. They will make a road map on your way one ultimate financial philosophy. For most people, this means financial independance.

Long Term vs. Short Term

Once you have a list of defined goals, you’ll need to label them long term goals or short term goals. Short term goals should be things you can achieve in a year. They will often be the stepping stones for long term goals. You will never be able to declare you’re debt free without paying off things like credit card debt.

Prioritize

Now that you have made a distinction between the goals that are more urgent than the others, we need to take it a step farther. Prioritize the short term goals in order of the most urgent and possibly damaging. If you have many credit cards that are maxed out, they are a financial burden and also detrimental to your credit score. Something of this nature will certainly be put at the top of the list.

Similarly, you will want to prioritize long term goals. If you have a goal that is going to take more aggressive measure of saving or investing to achieve, then this will be your top priority. Labeling each goals in an order of importance, will provide you will clarity and direction to achieve your goals.

Periodically Evaluate

Goals are set with the purpose of signaling when your hard work has paid off. Periodically check in on the progress you are making on your goals. If you are ahead of where you thought you would be – great! If you are behind, you now have the chance to work harder or reevaluate your situation. No matter what, it’s imperative to know where you are and how far you have to go.

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