Do you have a plan for your money? Goals for what you want it to accomplish? When you don’t tell your money where to go, you may find it disappearing right under your nose.
A couple of months ago, I reached a huge financial goal. We used our tax refund to pay off the last balance on our credit cards. From a high balance of over $16,000 in credit card debt, we were down to zero.
Paying off debt was a huge accomplishment.
We had worked hard to get to this point. Cut expenses. Cut the fun stuff. Put all extra money towards paying off our debt.
But here’s where we went wrong.
We had been putting a $500 snowball payment plus the minimum payments on the credit cards, for a total of $800 a month. And suddenly we didn’t have to send off that money to our credit cards.
Where did the money go?
I have no idea where it went for April. Well, I may have an idea…it got piddlled away. We went out to eat. We didn’t pay any attention to our grocery budget. We splurged on some new clothes (I did really need clothes, so maybe this one is a fair expense).
Sure, it may have not seemed like a big deal at the time, but at the end of the month it was a different story. When I realized that we had $800 that we pretty much threw away, it made me ill. I thought of how many hours I worked for that money. I thought about how far that could have gone. That it was over a month’s worth of grocery money. Down the drain.
We didn’t have a financial plan or any goals for what we wanted to achieve with our money. As a result, we achieved nothing.
I knew we had to get back on track and come up with a new goal for our money so we didn’t repeat last month.
So after brainstorming, we decided that we were going to continue to payoff debt, moving on to student loans. I feel so much better now that I have a goal to work toward. Instead of throwing money away, I have a plan for what I want my money to accomplish.
Now it’s your turn to set your financial goals.
Do you have any financial goals? Take a few minutes and think of what you want to improve on financially.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started if you need some inspiration:
- Cut expenses
- Save money
- Payoff debt
Want to make your goals even better? Have you heard of the SMART acronym?
Make your goals SPECIFIC.
Good: I want to payoff debt.
Better: I want to payoff my student loan debt.
Make your goals MEASURABLE.
You need to be able to measure the progress of your goal.
Good: I want to payoff my student loan debt.
Better: I want to payoff my student loan debt of $10,000.
Make your goals ATTAINABLE.
Your goal should be hard, but not impossible to obtain.
Good: I want to payoff my student loan debt of $10,000.
Better: I want to payoff $5,000 of my student loan debt.
Make your goals REALISTIC.
Is your goal reasonable?
Make your goals TIMELY.
Set a time frame for your goal.
Good: I want to payoff $5,000 of my student loan debt.
Better: I want to payoff $5,000 of my student loan debt by December 2015.
See how I used this system to make a SMART goal for my finances?
Set a financial goal. Make a plan for your money.
When your finances go awry, you need a way to get back on track. Set a financial goal and start bossing your money around. Don’t forget to make your goal specific and set a time frame for meeting the goal.