Wouldn’t it be great if all of your financial goals could be realized with the snap of your fingers? Well, unless you’ve won the lottery or stumbled across a genie in a bottle, achieving those goals is going to take some effort.
It’s also going to take some forethought. After all, there are short-term goals and then there are long-term goals. It’s a matter of figuring out which is which and deciding how you’re going to attain them.
Once you’ve hammered out your financial goals, it’s time to prioritize them. Which ones are the most important? Are there ironclad deadlines for certain ones? For each of your goals, you should estimate how much money it will take to reach them, and you should establish a realistic timetable for each one as well.
Examples of short-term goals include buying a new car, getting out of credit card debt, or taking a vacation. Long-term objectives can include putting aside funds for a new house, or saving for your retirement or your child’s education.
One of the best ways to effectively plan for your financial goals is come up with a budget. To do that, you need to know what your monthly income and expenses are. Your income is pretty straightforward – it’s all of the money you have coming in each month including pay checks from work, any disability or child support payments you may receive, any rental income you earn, etc.
On the other side of the ledger are expenses that fall into two basic categories: the “needs”, like housing, food, and transportation, and the “wants”, such as cable TV, maid service, gym memberships, and restaurant dinners.
By subtracting your estimated costs from your expected income, you’ll have a good sense of how much money will be left over each month after you’ve covered all of your expenses. These are the funds that you can use to save toward your short-term and long-term goals.
After you’ve established a budget, don’t consider it to be set in stone. Allow for some flexibility, since your expenses and income are likely to change over time. Your salary could increase, or your property taxes could go up, but the key is to stay focused on having some discretionary income on a regular basis that you can set aside to achieve your financial goals.
You may also want to re-evaluate your “wants” to free up additional money. Perhaps you could cut back on the number of times you go out to dinner every month, or you could forego cable in favor of a cheaper video streaming service like Netflix or Hulu.
Whatever financial goals you have in mind, a little planning and dedication can go a long way to helping you realize them.