Planning and following strategies to meet your financial goals is easier said than done, but it’s not an impossible task. Make accomplishing your financial goals easier on yourself by clarifying your goals, planning ahead, and being realistic about your financial habits.
Examine Your Financial Goals
Not all financial goals are created equally. That’s why it’s important to analyze your own goals to see which are broad and reach into the future, and which can be achieved right away or in the next few years.
Short-term financial goals can be achieved immediately or all the way up to a year or two. Examples include setting up a budget, hitting a specified amount in your emergency fund, saving up to pay for a large expense like a new appliance, or paying off a certain debt. Achieving your short-term goals can give you a boost of confidence and motivate you to stick to your other goals.
Mid-term goals, also called intermediate or medium-term goals, may not be achievable right away, but they may not take as long as your long-term goals. Think of them as the bridge between the two.
Examples of mid-term goals might include buying a new car, paying off your student loans, renovating your current home, or saving up for a down payment on a new home.
Long-term goals are goals in your distant future. How far away they are varies by person, but generally, goals over five years can be considered long-term goals. The key is that they’re longer commitments and sometimes require more money.
Saving for retirement is one of the biggest and most common long-term goals for many people. Other long-term goals can include saving for your child’s college education or saving a specific amount to leave to loved ones or charity after you’ve passed away.
Some Goals Are a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Once you’ve clarified which goals fall in which categories, you can figure out how much money and energy to spend on each goal. You can also decide how long you expect to take to accomplish each goal.
Not all goals will require the same amount of resources and energy. For example, if you’re determined to build your emergency fund back up by the end of the current year, you may devote more money and focus to that goal over the next few months. But the same intense approach to reaching this short-term goal isn’t sustainable for a long-term goal like saving for retirement.
If you consistently dedicate as much money, time, and energy to your mid-term goals and long-term goals, you run the risk of burning yourself out and losing motivation to keep going. A marathon mindset where you’re in it for the long haul is better suited for these goals.
Take Your Personality and Habits Into Account
Are you better at accomplishing your short-term goals under pressure? Or do you prefer to plan ahead to achieve your long-term goals? There’s no right or wrong way to accomplish your goals. What you should do is examine your personality and money habits, and create strategies that work for you.
If you struggle to commit to your long-term goals, break them down into smaller, more easily digestible goals. Try not to focus on the overall goal far off in the distance if you know it will distract you or cause you stress.
For example, to save for the retirement that you want, think of ways to work toward that goal in the short-term or mid-term. You might set a small goal to increase your 401(k) contributions, which will ultimately affect your retirement projections. Or you may trim some expenses from your budget so the money can go toward savings instead.
This strategy can be applied to your short-term goals, too. If you struggle to make your budget work every month, pick one category or area of it and focus on improving that first, like sticking to your weekly amount for groceries. It’s easy to overthink and become overwhelmed with what you should be doing or could be doing. Focus on one thing at a time so you can continue to make progress toward your goal.
Be Flexible and Stay Strong
Having various approaches to your short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals is essential for achieving financial security and success. Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll build a financial strategy that you can commit to. Remember that your progress won’t be perfect, either. Be flexible and remain consistent. You’ll accomplish your goals eventually.
Looking for professional financial planning assistance? The Guiding Wealth team can help you set your goals, craft a sustainable financial plan, and review your progress toward your goals periodically. With our transition planning services and retirement planning services, you get an innovative and customized approach to your financial life and plan.
Learn more about how we can support you and your financial journey.