SO, it’s March, the third month of the year, and we’re all well into maintaining our New Year’s Resolutions, right? Hahaha, yeah, me too. While my healthy eating goals are on hiatus (it is Girl Scout cookie season), my financial goals are doing pretty well. Here’s why:
First, what are my financial goals for 2016?
- Pay down my credit card (goal is to have it paid off by July 2017)
- Build an emergency fund (goal is to have $2500 saved up by the end of the year)
- Save for retirement (no real goal here for the moment…just contribute something each month to my Roth IRA)
Second, what am I doing to meet those goals?
Automation! After finalizing my budget for the year, I simply set up recurring, automatic transfers of money from my checking account to each of the accounts above (credit card, savings, Roth IRA). If you’ve got financial goals like I do, you need to embrace the world of online, and mobile, banking. There’s nothing easier than setting up $100 to transfer to savings once a month…and then you just sit back and watch your savings add up. To make things even easier, I set up my money to be transferred the day after my paycheck goes in, that way I know I’ll always have money in my account, and it’ll be like I never had it to spend in the first place.
I’m also doing a couple other things to ensure my financial goal success. First, I stopped using my credit card entirely, and I changed all recurring payments to use my debit card instead (this was a big one for me). Second, I took a hard look at my budget and changed some things so that I had more money to contribute, like my spending fast. In total, I spend around $950 per month towards the 3 goals above. Making some small sacrifices now so that I can be debt free in the future is worth it. Third and finally, I started talking about my goals (i.e., this blog)! Seriously, telling others what you’re trying to do and the ways you’re doing it is huge motivation for sticking to your plan.
With all that being said, here are a few of my tips for financial goal success:
- Have a set goal in mind (have a specific amount of money to save or loan pay-off date in mind – something measurable)
- Automate your payments or savings each month
- Make small sacrifices to add up to a big reward (once a week, put the $5 you’d spend at Starbucks into your savings account instead)
- Don’t stress yourself out unnecessarily. If you’d need to pay $1500/month to pay off your credit card by the end of the year, cut that amount in half and take two years. There’s no sense going hungry to save some money on interest charges, and that amount of sacrificing might make you more likely to splurge later. Make a budget, set a goal, and pay as much as you are comfortable paying towards that goal. One year, 18 months, two years…it doesn’t matter.
Follow these tips, and reap the benefits. Cheers to meeting your financial goals for 2016!