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By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews, APUS
Flipping the calendar to a new year seems to motivate people to set new personal goals for themselves, such as working out more often or taking part in civic affairs meetings. So why not set some financial goals for 2019?
One of the hardest parts of setting goals is choosing those that are actually attainable. The best way to stay on track is to make reasonable, measurable financial goals.
Tips for Creating Your Financial Goals
- Start by making a monthly budget based on the last few months of your 2018 activities. Make sure your budget is accurate and honest.
Also, compare your income against your expenses. Visualizing these transactions in one easy-to-read place can be an eye-opening experience.
- After reviewing your budget, think about the biggest financial issue you face. Are you spending too much money? If so, where is it going?
For instance, is your cable bill too high? Have you spent a lot of money on new outfits? Do you find that you have extra money, which you spend on frivolous activities or material possessions that you could put into your savings account? Pick one aspect of your spending and work on creating goals for that specific problem.
- Remember that your goals need to be reasonable, realistic and measurable. After choosing a problem area to focus on, try creating two to three smaller goals.
Set Financial Limits and Allow for Occasional Treats
Be sure to take a practical approach to your financial goals. For instance, suppose you find that you have been spending too much money at restaurants. Your ultimate goal is to stop eating out so often, but you want to make that goal reasonable and achievable.
First, realize that it is okay to treat yourself every once in a while. Everyone likes a nice night out. Determine how much you can realistically spend and then reduce the number of times you will go out. For example, decide that you will dine out only twice in January.
Next, set a spending limit so you can gauge what kinds of restaurants you can visit. If you only have $50 to spend in January, that’s fine. If you feel you can spend $150, that is also fine. You know your own budget better than anyone.
Using this approach, you set a reasonable, measurable goal. Follow the same principle in other aspects of your finances and you will set yourself up for a strong 2019.