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What Are Your 2019 #MoneyGoals?

By Allan Kunigis

  • PUBLISHED January 03
  • |

As you look ahead to the new year, what are your financial goals? Have you defined or articulated specific financial accomplishments you want to make?

As a new year begins, we tend to look ahead and hope for better things. And the way we better our circumstances, including our financial situation, is to have clear goals and a plan to reach them. So, how do you start?  

What matters the most to you?

Begin by taking a big step back to think about what you really want out of life. For example, is it an early retirement? Yearly vacations? A second home? Visualize what you want.  

Rank and prioritize your goals.

Do you have more than one goal? Maybe you have so many goals and dreams that you don’t know where to begin. Take the time to go through your list. Think about what your top priorities are, and also what goals are realistic. Perhaps the sports car and beach house are a stretch right now. Review your goals and select the top ones that are achievable within a realistic time frame.  

Set SMART goals.

The acronym S.M.A.R.T. refers to goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. To use the S.M.A.R.T. approach to converting dreams to reality, start by putting a price tag and a timeline on each financial goal. Say for example, you want to save $40,000 for a down payment on a home in a desirable neighborhood. First, determine a realistic timeline. Could you save that money within four years? That would require saving $10,000 a year, roughly $833 a month, or maybe less in a high yield savings account. That’s tangible, so if it’s not attainable, then consider other timelines or methods to come up with the cash.  

Multiple timelines.

Perhaps you have short-, medium-, and long-term goals. Your short-term goal might be a special vacation. Your medium-term goal could be a new car. You might have competing longer-term goals, such as college savings and retirement savings. Thinking through how much these goals need attention every year will be key to planning for all of them. Maybe your long-term goals need a quarter of the savings of your short-term goals, because the timeline is much longer.  

Stay on track.

Monitor your goals and assess your progress over time. Financial goal-setting isn’t a “one-and-done” exercise. It’s a journey from where you are today to a future destination. While on your journey, regularly review your goals and progress. First, do you still have the same goals or have they changed at all? Second, are you on track? What adjustments, if any, do you need to make?  

Plan B?

If you’re not on track to reach your goals, what can you change? Could you dig deep and save more, or should you consider scaling back on your original plans? Perhaps you need to “step down” slightly and taper your goals. For example, if you're saving for your child’s college education, you might initially strive to save enough to pay for tuition at a private school. But as the deadline draws closer, you might have to be content with saving for a more modestly priced college, which might offer better value.  

Whatever your 2019 money goals may be, remember to be smart, and to take it one step at a time. 

Allan Kunigis is a financial freelance writer based in Shelburne, VT. He has written about personal finance for more than two decades.

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