It’s officially the new year, and with it comes that dreaded post-holiday financial hangover. But it’s also the perfect time to wipe your guilt-ridden slate clean and commit to making 2018 the year you slay your finance goals.
Money is nothing more than a tool. A means by which you control and conduct your life. A thing that helps you achieve your dreams. But, unless we set solid goals, those dreams remain nothing more than a wish in the wind.
But getting financially organized really isn’t as painstaking or as complicated as you might think. In fact, seeing it as quite simple could make all the difference. Here are some practical ways to get started.
Establish goals in the non-financial areas of your life
Goal-setting should take every major aspect of your life into account. In order for you to make the most of your financial life, you have to ensure that other areas of your life are also somewhat in order. We know this intuitively; when our work schedule is overloaded, we might skip out on spin class, miss quality time with our partner, or overspend on Chick-Fil-A drive through purchases.
According to motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, in addition to financial goals, we need to set goals in the spiritual, family, work/career, personal/social, physical/health, and mind/intellect categories of our lives. Once you have guidance in those categories, you can establish a plan to organize your finances around them.
Determine your BIG financial priority
Want to kick that student loan to the curb? Or cash-flow that trip to Bali? Those are all amazing goals, but sadly, you can usually only pick main one. Depending on your salary, most people can only really accomplish one to two major financial goals in one calendar year.
That means you may have to delay some of the more “fun” financial goals for a time, like saving for a trip, in order to prioritize paying off credit cards and student loans. And, be realistic about how much you can accomplish towards that goal within the year.
Establish how much you can contribute towards your other goals
A balanced life is a healthy life. That’s why once your key living expenses (eg. rent, mortgage, car payments, etc.) are met, andyou’ve allocated the amount for your main financial goal, be sure to consider how much of the remaining balance you can put towards other, non-financial goals. For example, buying a gym membership to meet your health goals, or finding inexpensive date night options.
Organize your bank accounts
Firstly, make sure there aren’t any hidden transaction fees to move money between accounts within the same bank. Then, create separate savings accounts for different savings goals, labeling each with the savings goal, like “summer vacation,” or “new car fund.”
Also, make sure you’re only using one account for your everyday expenses and bill payments. More than that, and things can get confusing real fast, and cause you to miss payment deadlines.
Determine your weekly “money day”
When it comes to money, ignorance is the furthest thing from bliss. Like it or not, you need to know what the status of your personal finances is. Set aside one day in the week where you’ll spend some time, perhaps half an hour or so, looking through your finances for that week.
That could mean creating your upcoming weekly budget, or keeping tabs on how your monthly budget is going, paying bills, checking up on your investments, savings, and so on. What you don’t know can hurt you, so make sure you know what’s happening with your money.
Project and estimate the costs of special events
Yes, it’s only January, but in order to be financially organized you might have to look ahead and “project” what life’s going to look like throughout the year. Break the calendar down into smaller chunks, like quarters, and map out upcoming or recurring dates that are special events, and may require extra money.
Got a friend’s birthday trip to Mexico in May? Include that as an aside from your main financial goal for the year and start putting away money for it from now on. Don’t be surprised and let those dates sneak up on you.
Make 2018 be the year you slay your financial goals, whatever they are.