Whether we love it or hate it, money is a necessity and the better we manage it the better we find life to be.
Setting money goals is no different to setting other goals say around losing weight, starting to exercise and eat healthier or getting a new job for example, but because we generally tend to think about money differently, we don’t always achieve our money goals. Often the thoughts we have around money affect how we behave with it – why otherwise do some people have lots of it and others don’t. Although you could say it is about how much you earn, what you do with it once you have it is what’s important – so what this means is that it wouldn’t matter how much you had if you always end up with none…it might take you longer but you would still end up in the same situation.
We have to change how we think about money before we can change how we manage it.
Setting one or two goals is better than setting lots. So although you might have lots of things you want when it comes to money, setting a couple of goals means you are more likely to achieve them than setting yourself lots and becoming overwhelmed.
Start small – if you haven’t been great with money in the past that doesn’t mean you can start now – and pat yourself on the back for wanting to start now and set yourself some money goals for 2017!
Like anything things start to snowball, so when you have achieved your first small money goal you will have lots of confidence to move on and set more goals. Taking actions in smaller steps are also easier to deal with – that’s why people always learn easier in smaller chunks too! We can deal with small steps but when we have much larger ones it becomes overwhelming and we can easily talk ourselves out of it.
Which Money Goals to Set
Everyone’s money goals will be different but a good goal to start with would be setting a budget. This will help you manage your money from the start and pave the way to being able to have spare money too. Really setting a budget is about looking at the income you have coming in and the expenses you have going out – just simple maths really of your Income minus your Expenditure leaving what you have left to spend or save. As well as working out what you have left, doing this exercise will also give you an opportunity to look at where your money is going. Are you in a lot of debt, do you pay money out on things that perhaps you don’t need. Setting a budget is all about this and so spending some quality time working on this is a great goal to set. The idea of a goal is really having the intention – which is truly just the commitment to wanting to make it happen and then taking the action steps to achieve it. What’s also important is setting a time limit on it, so you work towards it. Otherwise you might just keep putting it off. Writing it down also makes it seem more real and there is something more real about putting pen to paper so get yourself a little notebook or something to jot your goals and actions down in. Doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just something you write any notes or thoughts around your goals in. So our first goal might look something like this:
GOAL #1 – WORK OUT A BUDGET
Timescale – 1 month, by February 11th 2017
- Read through the Money Advice Service Budget Planner Guide (there is actually one here)
- Decide where I can make changes to the things I pay out for so that I have more money left each month
- Work out how much money I owe.
There may be other actions you have too but the goal is simply to achieve a budget – so you know how much you have coming in, what is going out and to where and how much you have left. You could then move on to your next goal which might be to make a plan for paying off your debt. If you have a lot of debt that might take some time – it doesn’t matter how long it takes, the fact that you are working towards it means you will achieve it. Don’t forget, you don’t have to do this alone. There are lots of organisations out there who can offer free advice and help you with paying off debt. Work out your debt in the same way that you worked out the budget by putting the overall goal, which would be to create a ‘Paying off Debt’ and then list the actions you need to take to do that. You can also set timescales for each action. So using our example of working out a budget, you might set yourself an action step each week.
Something else that really works and this is used by people who manage army operations so it definitely works, is to work backwards. So if your goal is to pay off your debt you start with that goal as your end result and then work backwards. So think to yourself it is February 2018 (or when you would like that goal to be achieved by) and I have paid off my debt and then work backwards taking all the action steps you would need to take to get there – you then have a list of things to do that lead you back to now….
Remember the Hare and the Tortoise
You might have read the Aesops Fable story about the Hare and Tortoise – racing off doesn’t always mean you will finish first and in that story the tortoise won the race by plodding along. The point here is to keep moving – take small steps towards your goal but keep going forwards and you will achieve it. Once you have achieved one goal it makes it much easier to achieve another and another and before you realise it you will be one of those people that others look at and say, he/she is great at managing their money, I wish I could be like that. You have everything you need right now to start managing your money better – set the intention (the goal), write down the actions (the steps) and start taking them!
Good luck and we hope that 2017 brings lots of good things for you around money and managing it better!