Setting goals is the first step towards creating your future and what you want to get out of life. The hard part comes when you start working towards that goal and finally completing it.
It’s simple to sit down and write down a bucket list of dreams, but when reality sets in and the rubber meets the road, it takes a lot of work and dedication to follow through.
When I turned 25 I made a decision that each year I would save up some money towards a particular goal. One year it was to be completely out of credit card debt, last year it was the new iPad and this year it was my new laptop. Yes, I’m an electronics geek!
For me this has a dual purpose: 1) It lets me splurge a little on anything I want or need once a year and 2) it helps me develop discipline and control since I’m always working towards a certain goal.
Some financial goals are short term, like saving up for a pair of designer shoes, and others are long term, like paying off debt or saving for retirement. For both types you can use these same basic techniques.
Create a Timeline
Once you’ve decided on a goal, you need to create a plan. I start by writing down a timeline of how long I want to work towards the certain goal. Large goals take a little longer and more money, while smaller goals take less time and less money. With my last goal, my timeline was determined by how much extra money I could make to put towards it. The more money I made or saved, the quicker I was able to complete it.
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Now that the timeline is finished it’s time to write down the exact amount of money needed for your goal and the exact amount of days/months you want to complete it in. By dividing those two factors into each other, you can determine exactly how much money you need save up, over that many days. This will help you figure out exactly how many hours of overtime you need, or how much you need to cut back on your lifestyle.
Use the Right Tools
Finding the right financial tools to keep you motivated is a big factor in staying disciplined. It might take a little time to try out new things, but once you find the best method or resource, you can dive right in. Whether it’s free online software, a mobile app, a spreadsheet, an expense journal, you can use any method to jump-start your journey. Just find the right tools to keep you on track, while having fun at the same time.
Celebrate Small Victories
So you’re ½ way there? That’s an awesome accomplishment and needs to be celebrated! Don’t focus your energy on the setbacks, focus on how far you’ve come. Learn to enjoy the journey. It takes a lot of small steps to make a giant leap forward. Keep yourself motivated by celebrating the small milestones along the way.
Don’t Feel Guilty
I’ve gotten some negative feedback and not everyone agrees with my decisions but there is a method to my madness. Setting and completing goals has created a sense of accomplishment and set me on a path for success in the future. It’s definitely worth all the sacrifice. You shouldn’t let people influence your goals, because hard work and diligence always pays off.
So what’s your goal? Now that you have these tips for achieving your financial goal, go out and do it! And be sure to let us know how it works out.
This is a guest post by Carrie Smith, the genius behind the Careful Cents personal finance blog. She’s a Certified Bookkeeper and Financial writer. She’s also a career junkie, social media addict, debt hater and food lover. Follow her on Twitter @applecsmith.