Ahhh, the first week of a new year, a week filled with so much potential and many aspirations. If you’re like most American’s one of this year’s goals likely involves your personal finances. Be it making more money, getting out of debt or just saving more, becoming financially fit should be a priority for everyone. Fortunately for you, there are a number of resources to achieve those goals.
If you haven’t already, try creating a SMART Goal.
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.
Okay, so you want to get out of debt. Great, so how much debt do you have? You don’t know? Pull out those credit card statements and collection notices you’ve been avoiding and check the balances. Be sure to account for auto, personal and student loans. The grand total of these represents your debt load. The number may be shocking, but it makes a lot better sense than saying “I want to get out of debt”.
Taking control of your finances doesn’t have to be the migrane-inducing task it’s hyped up to be. Budgeting and analytic tools like Mint.com make creating a budget and tracking your spending a breeze. Knowing your spending habits and how it effects your goals is 50% of getting out debt. The other 50% is being disciplined enough to modify those habits to your advantage.
A common financial goal for the new year is to make more money. People making $30,000 will say they want to make 100,000.00 before the end of the year. These people are dreamers, not goal-setters. All goals, financial or not should be realistic. Sure, they should stretch and challenge you but keep them within reachable limits.
Having fleshed out the original statement “ I wanna get out of debt” into something specific, measurable and attainable, we must ask ourselves the all important why. Using the debt example there are a number of reasons for wanting to accomplish the goal.
-Improved Credit Score
-More discretionary income
All your goals should have a WHY component. Without the likelihood of accomplishing it shrinks drastically.
With the what, how, and why of your goal figured out, let’s get to the when. Setting a target date for its completion helps keep you accountable and motivated. Tracking your progress with analytic tools like Mint ensures that you will know when to up the ante or dial back on your consumption or saving.
So there you have it, a SMART plan to aide you in achieving your goals.
The Premier Issue of American Gentleman Magazine will feature some additional financial tips and resources.
For those looking for additional resources on improving their finances check out the following.
Yes, the names sound like scams but I can personally attest to their validity and methods. Check them out.