Have you thought about what you want to accomplish in 2014? I never used to set literal goals until about 2 years ago when I started my own blog. Since then I’ve been more in tune with our finances now that I’m sharing our financial goals and quarterly budget updates. I’ve heard many friends talk about how they should get their finances together or how they have an upcoming expense they should start saving for. More times than less their good intentions never come to fruition simply because no effort is initiated beyond the thought.
I’m a big advocate for financial freedom. Life is much more enjoyable when we control our money, not the other way around. With that said, here are a few very practical tips to help you take steps toward reaching your goals instead of merely thinking about them.
Set aside a monthly amount for future expenses
When a bigger expense is in the foreseeable future, determine how much you’ll need and set it aside in monthly increments. The easiest way we’ve been able to do this is with our Capital One 360 savings account. I’m not getting paid to promote Capital One; the savings account just offers a simple way to save and it’s worked really well for us.
For example, the rotted wood from our patio is over 20 years old and has led to an earwig killing spree in our condo after it rains. At the rate we’re saving for the estimated cost, we’ll be ready to pay for the project in full when spring arrives. If you don’t like the idea of setting up another savings account, Mint allows you to track goals through accounts you already have…and yes, there’s an app for it!
Mentally, it feels like less of a burden to set aside $50/month rather than wondering what to do when that $600 car insurance bill arrives in the mail. While we were in Calgary for 6 months, we made a list of things we planned to purchase for our home when we got back and, again, we set aside a monthly amount. We were able to buy a deep freezer, a new comforter, glass blocks for our basement window, and a new (used) bike for my husband to ride to work with money we actually had. Can you think of any expenses coming up that you could save for bit by bit?
Schedule automatic deposits
With Black Friday now in the past, one goal fresh on your mind may be to actually SAVE for Christmas purchases next year rather than closing your eyes while handing over your credit card. With the Capital One savings accounts you can name your goal, we’ll call it “Christmas 2014,” and set up an automatic monthly transfer of $100 from your checking account to this account. By the time Christmas rolls around next year, you’ll have $1200 for shopping in your pocket.
To take a different approach with automatic deposits, you can make additional payments to any debt you’re trying to knock out. Your monthly payment for student loans may be $300 but if you can handle even $325 each month you’ll be surprised how much money you can save in the long run by not paying all that extra interest! Set up that extra automatic payment and you’ll soon forget it’s even happening.
Tell people about your goals
I was so grateful for the resources that I came across after sharing our financial goals with family, friends, and my readers. During the 9 months we were paying off student loans ($30,000) our friends were great about coming up with creative ideas for hanging out because they knew we wanted to knock out our debt ASAP. When I shared that we were out of debt and ready to open a Roth IRA, we got a wealth of suggestions that led us to open an account. I also learned about Mint, Capital One, and the credit card we currently use through friends and my blogging community. There’s power in numbers; take advantage of what your community can offer.
You’ve still got another month to before 2014 arrives. Don’t let another year go by with “nice ideas.” Take the first step to reaching your goals and SET SOME.
What goals would you like to accomplish in 2014?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.