Very shortly it will be a brand new year and a chance for brand new beginnings. So with that, I ask: What are you going to do differently with your finances than you did last year?
Not sure? That doesn’t surprise me. We all want the best for our money and our future, but it’s pretty hard to figure out how to go somewhere if you don’t even know where it is you’re going. To really understand what it is that you want, you need to expand your financial perspective through a series of goal setting activities that help you figure out how you feel about yourself and your money.
Once you’ve had the chance to visualize what it is you really want for your money, I think you’ll be surprised by how easily things will come together. Please take the time to read through each of these goal setting activities (either alone or with your spouse), answer them as honestly as possible, and really challenge yourself to see if you’re as confident about your plans as you thought. Enjoy!
Personal Finance Goal Setting Activities for You to Try:
1. If you were given the ability today to make one large purchase for free, what would it be? Is it going to be a new house, a more reliable car, or it could even be a payoff such as credit card debt, etc. The answer to this question will help you decide which next large financial purchase you should focus on.
2. Are you satisfied with how much money you’re making now?
- What will it take to make more?
- Will your pay ever cap out? Do you need to go back to school for a degree or special training?
- Could your attitude or the way you treat others have anything to do with it?
- Should you be doing something else completely?
3. Imagine if your spouse or loved one passed away. Not only would you have to deal with unimaginable emotional stress, but how would you pay the bills each month? How much life insurance do you have and what would it cover? Make a list of the possible sources (work, Social Security, private). If it’s not enough, consider purchasing more insurance as needed.
4. Write down the age at which you want to retire. Have you ever considered this before?
- What’s standing in your way? Are there some kind of age requirements that will hold you back? Are there ways around them?
- How much money do you need to get there? Is there anything else you could be doing more creatively to get there?
- How does your retirement goal align with your other finance goals?
5. Do you have kids? Make a list of the next 25 years and write down what age they’ll be next to year. Now write down your age next to each. How many years do you have to save for their college? Do you even plan to? You may not realize it yet, but college costs may end up interfering with your finance goals such as your mortgage payoff or retirement if you are unprepared to handle them.
6. Imagine you came home and there was a big puddle on the floor due to a leaky roof that was going to cost $10,000 to fix. What if there was a huge medical emergency? What if you lost your job? Would you be able to draw from your emergency fund to pay for these things? If not, what are you going to do to build up your emergency fund?
7. Grab your last three credit card statements and read through them. Which items or stores stand out to you? Could you stand to make a commitment to cut back or even give up going there?
8. Make a list of the top 10 things you (think) need. Try to avoid common everyday products and focus on more personal purchases like new gadgets, clothes, etc. When you see advertisements or go out shopping, stick to only needing the things on your list and nothing else.
9. If someone gave you an extra $1,000 today, what would you do with it? Now what if someone gave your spouse an extra $1,000 today, what would they do with it? It’s okay if the answers are different, but you should at least know enough about the other to know what the other would do.
10. If a family member died and left you $100,000, would you know how to invest the money? If not, consider the fact that you may need to brush up on your financial education. Read a good introductory book such as “Your Money Ratios” to help introduce you to the world of money management.
11. Are you happy? Does all this talk about goal setting activities and frugal living get you down? Do you choke yourself (and those you love) trying to do the right thing by paying down debt and saving towards your goals? Could you stand to cut loose just a little?
12. Cheer up. Turn off those TV vanity shows where people are re-doing their bathrooms for millions of dollars. Instead, Google average savings rate in US. Are you above or below the average?
There’s an old saying that goes if you and your friend are being chased by a lion, you don’t have to out-run the lion. You just have to out-run your friend! The morale of the story is that you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to beat the status-quo. Unfortunately modern media has tempted us into believing that people 100X richer than us are the new normal. But that simply just isn’t true. In reality, despite how good you think you’ve answered these goal setting activities, your targets are probably completely appropriate for where you are at this point in your life. But take my advice – don’t stop being hungry for better!
Readers – What are your goal setting activities to make sure you know what you want to do with your money? Does anyone have anything specific they want to declare for the New Year?
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