How To Set Successful Goals For Your Finances
The surveys tell us most people who make New Year’s resolutions overwhelmingly choose two areas to focus on: health or finances. They resolve, or set goals, for their finances or to improve their health. Since almost every day of our life seems to encounter a choice that affects both of those areas we understand why these two seem to top the lists each year. But how do you set successful goals for your finances?
ABC news reported that fewer people made health related resolutions last year but the amount of people making financial resolutions rose by 6% for a total of 37% of all resolutions. Another source, Statista, said 51% of people setting New Year’s resolutions picked “save money” and 48% of those people resolved to “lose weight”. If only nickels added up like unwanted pounds we’d all be set!
Whether you choose to call your financial ambitions a resolution or not, it is wise to set some goals when it comes to your money. One of the many mistakes people make with goal setting is that their “goals” or more like “wishes” because they lack any grit or practically it to actually get the job done.
A study in Journal of Clinical Psychology reports, only 46% of those who make resolutions are successful BUT only 4% of the non-resolvers end up meeting their goals. So before we scoff at those failed resolvers, let’s make sure we know what steps a person needs to take to be successful when setting goals. Success is not defined as “more money”. Money is a tool to help you help others: your family, the less fortunate, your community, or a cause you care about.
We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill
For your best-ever goal-setting success, remember these 7 things:
1.Limit the number of goals.
One thing common to every person is the amount of time in one day. You get 24 hours, the President gets 24 hours, and that person who always seems to get more done than you—they get 24 hours. So be realistic with the number of goals you set. If you want to: write a book, run a marathon, place top in every rodeo in the west, and travel to five new places this year, you’re going to need more than 24 hours in a day or fewer goals. And we can promise you, no one gets more than twenty-four hours. No one does.
But each day that you are given is a chance to do great things.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23
It is better to choose one or a few goals that are really important to you than to try to juggle a whole list.
2. Break down each goal into smaller, more specific goals.
Big tasks seem too overwhelming and we often aren’t sure where to start. Need proof? Watch a child’s eyes glaze over when you ask him or her to “go clean your room”. They aren’t sure where to start and they are fairly certain they’ll never finish. Our goals can feel like that too. Never-ending, mind-numbing, and too big.
Break down your one or two goals into measurable and time-bound, smaller goals. For example, take “Save Money” and break it into practical, smaller goals like “Take my lunch to work every day this week and no eating out this weekend.” Or “Ditch cable TV for three months and start a savings account with the amount I save.” Or “Fix up my truck this month to avoid a new purchase this year.”
Break down those large goals into manageable chunks that you can measure. And celebrate your successes. If you went a week and hit your smaller, target goal congratulate yourself. Seeing successful progress will help you keep going.
3. Start with a positive attitude.
Your attitude towards your goal helps to determine your success. If you feel defeated before you begin, your odds of polishing off that goal sink like a pebble in the Arkansas River.
If you believe (on some level) that the goal is too big, too difficult, or just out of your reach your odds of sticking with the work it takes decreases.
4. Write down your goals.
Life gets busy. If you want to knock your goals out of the park, write them down. When distractions (good and bad) pop up it is best to have your goals written down so they don’t evaporate.
Writing down your goals also forces you to clarify what you hope to focus on. It’s there in black and white.
Bonus: An extra benefit of writing down your goals is your ability to look back on that stickie note, journal entry, or note in your phone in a few months or this time next year and see how far you’ve come.
American business magazine, Inc., says you are 42% more likely to meet a goal if you write it down. If you’d like to save more money, write down how much, how, and by when. It might help to write out a stickie note and slap it on the bathroom mirror every week that you save the amount you’d like to save. Watch your mirror become crowded with your dedicated progress.
Sharpen that pencil and write down your goals.
5. Tell someone.
The experts say you’re more likely to stick with a goal if you tell someone about it.
Whether the person you tell formally helps hold you accountable for the goal or not, they say talking about it with someone else makes your goal feel more “real”.
If that person is a natural source of encouragement you could enlist their help of keeping you on track.
It certainly helps to have someone rooting for you. In fact, NFL (National Football League) teams have a greater than 6% chance of winning at home (where more people are rooting for them) versus a game played on the road. For an NBA (National Basketball Association) team that percentage of increased wins at home jumps over 10%.
It helps to have someone rooting for you. (Or several thousand.)
6. Automate whenever possible.
Look for a way for technology to give your goal a boost. If your goal is to get healthier you may want to check out an app to help out. There are apps for your phone that:
• Track your run
• Count your steps
• Count your calories
• Improve sleep
• Build healthy habits
• Send you video workouts
• Encourage you with daily bible verses
You can use your computer or phone to set alerts to remind you to head to the gym or any other healthy habit you’re trying to build.
If your goal, like millions of others, is to save money we have several options to help automate that process. Our customers can set up automatic transfers using online banking or the mobile app by going to the Transfers & Payments tab. You may set up as many transfers to and from First National Bank accounts as you want for any amount with the following frequencies: One-Time, Daily, Weekly, or Monthly with a scheduled start and scheduled end date. For example, you could “move $20 from my checking account to my savings account on the 5th day of every month for the next six months”. Or “move $5 from my checking account to my savings account every Friday for the next year”. You are more likely to succeed on your savings goals if it takes little effort to keep up the good work. Our automation options can help.
You can also set and customize accounts alerts delivered real-time to your email or as a text message to monitor your finances.
7. Review regularly.
When you set a goal, it pays to review that goal regularly. Set an appointment with yourself to review your goal each month. Better yet, review your goal each week. Smaller steps help build a healthy habit.
And if you have a bad week or month, don’t beat yourself up. Review your goal and begin again. No one is looking for perfection. You set the goal to improve your life, not to install a rigid, feel-rotten event.
Our customers can download transaction history dating back three years. Sometimes it’s helpful to review where you’re been to chart a realistic course for where you are headed.
Real change takes time with little, daily steps in the right direction. You deserve to be proud of any and all little steps you take to improve your life. Setbacks happen, but they don’t have to derail your positive steps toward a great end goal.
We love our customers. We know you’re the best. You are definitely a group of get-‘er-done folks! If there is any way we can help you meet your goals in January, June, September, or any other day on the calendar, we would love to help.
Please stop in and get any questions answered about saving or planning for your family or business. We are here to help. And we’re rooting for you!