If you had to choose between sitting down at the kitchen table and setting goals or sitting on the beach in the Caribbean, you would probably choose the beach. But how would you pay for the airfare? Hotel? Food? Souvenirs?
Goal setting in and of itself may not be exciting and fun, but it helps you to save for and achieve exciting and fun things, as well as things that may not be as exhilarating but are still pretty important (such as having enough money for retirement or a child’s college education). You could just wait and see what is left over at the end of the month after you pay your bills, but since it is easy to get in the habit of spending what you make, you may wind up having no savings if you take this approach.
Even if you are putting money in savings, how do you know if it is enough to get what you want when you want it by? By taking the time to think about what your goals are, how much they cost, when you want them by, and what your regular obligations are, you will know exactly how much to save each month and if you need to make changes to your budget so that you can both reach your goals and pay your bills with ease.
The first step in achieving your financial goals is, not surprisingly, determining what your goals are. For right now, just think about the goals themselves and when you want to achieve them by – don’t worry about the cost. Do you want to buy a new computer in a year? Have a down payment for a house in four years? Be debt free in five years?
Once you figure out what your goals are, you can then calculate how much you will need altogether and what you should set aside each month. How you do this depends on whether it is a short-, mid-, or long-term goal.