First, you need to decide what your want to achieve and write it down. This of course does not need to be limited to financial goals, but writing them down means you have started to make
a commitment to reaching your goals. One of goals might be
to have a comfortable retirement, for most of us that is at least
$500,000 in retirement funds. Once that goal is written down you start thinking about things like making room in your budget to increase the contribution to your IRA or 401k accounts.
It's best to have some short-term, intermediate and long-term goals, that way you will start seeing some success sooner and you are more likely to stick with your plans. Goals are fine, but you then need to add action steps to make the goals happen.
For now, let's focus on financial goals. An example of a short-term goal might be to save enough for three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund or the savings for a down payment on a car. An intermediate goal could be saving enough for the down payment on home or for the education of your children. Your long-term goal might be building your assets so you have sufficient wealth that you work because you choose to and not because you have to.
Get a sheet of paper (or do this on our phone's memo pad/your
computer) or use our Personal Money Goals Worksheets. Just
list three short-term goals, a target date for achieving the goal
and an estimate of the cost for that goal. Now do the same thing
for the intermediate goals and long-term goals. Review these
with your partner or spouse. It's important to be on the same
sheet of paper, make sure you discuss everything and get
alignment of these goals, so you have the support of your partner or spouse. If you are not in alignment on these financial goals, seek professional guidance so your can avoid problems or fights later on. The number one reason marriages end is fights over money, so set down with your partner and review these goals, be prepared to make changes in the spirit of compromise.
Once you have set your goals, the next step is to start mapping out your plan for achieving your goals.
You will most likely need to change some spending habits, cut expenses or find some additional sources of income to get your plan working so get to work on reviewing your spending or finding some side gigs so you can earn extra money. Stick to it, once you get started you will find that the changes will happen as you see some results. That's one reason you have to have goal of paying yourself first every payday.
Paying yourself first means tucking away a part of each paycheck to cover future expenses and to have the resources you need to reach your big longer term goals.
Review your goals at least annually, perhaps twice a year, but don't measure everything all of the time. It takes time to reach some of these goals, you just want to make sure you are staying on the right track and moving forward. If not make adjustments.