Setting goals is something that many Americans do each year. The jokes around the New Year tend to focus on the failure of everyone to meet those resolutions or goals. If you set new goals at the beginning of the school year or at the start of each year, then you need to create a support system and a plan that will help you achieve those goals. Creating a financial support system may be more difficult than creating a support system for other goals since you are dealing with confidential information you do not want to share with others. A supper system will help you monitor your progress towards reaching your goals.
Set Realistic Expectations
As you get ready to set your goals you need to look at what has been holding yourself back in the past and do something to change the system. For example, if you set a goal of exercise, but you never exercise because you are not a morning person, and that's when you are determined to exercise, you are setting yourself up for failure. Similarly, you may be setting yourself up to fail at your financial goals. Making a goal to save a certain amount of money each month, without closely examining your budget first may be setting yourself up for failure. You need to set realistic expectations you know you can keep. Here are some starting points for your financial goals.
Change Your Habits
You can start changing your habits or even just noticing your habits before you sit down to make any goals. This can help you identify areas you need to work on, and it can help you create a plan that actually works. For example, if you drink a soda or coffee on the way to work each morning, but you buy it at a convenience store or a coffee shop instead of finding a more affordable way to purchase it. You can save money by purchasing the soda from a grocery store, where it costs less per bottle or you can make your coffee at home. This is one easy habit that can save you significantly over the course of a month. Other habits may be going window-shopping on your lunch break, which leads to wanting more clothes or giving into sales when you have already spent the budget.
Find a Support Team
Find a group that will help you reach your financial goals. You may enroll in a personal finances class through your community center or church or you may find an online board or group that will be supportive of the changes you are trying to make. Your friends may or may not be supportive of your goals. If you are trying to make lifestyle changes or cutting back drastically on areas of spending, your current friends may be resistant to the change. There may be one or tow close friends who you can confide in and who will listen and give you encouragement. If you are married, you and your spouse should be working together and acting as a support team. A personal finance class can help you both get on track together. The class can also help you recognize where you are sabotaging yourself financially.
Map Out Rewards and Consequences
When you set your goals give yourself due dates with rewards and consequences for reaching those goals. These rewards do not need to be things you spend a lot of money on, but should give you the motivation to reach the goal. For example, if you have the goal of saving for your emergency fund by the end of three months give yourself a reward of something like a night out at your favorite restaurant and a consequence of giving up your extra spending money if you do not reach the goal. The consequence needs to be more than not receiving the reward to help motivate you more. For each step in your goals you should have a deadline with a reward and consequence, which will make it easier to track your progress and provide additional motivation towards reaching your goals.