Start with Attainable, Measurable Goals
Rome wasn’t built in a day but somehow, we assume our financial lives can be completely turned around in the course of a year or less. Committing to save an extra $2000 a month or cutting your unnecessary spending by half are great goals but have you considered what daily and weekly changes will bring you to your goals at the end of the year? I would encourage you to break down your goals in to manageable, bite-size tasks to accomplish on a weekly and monthly basis. You must also consider how your plan of action will fit into your life. You may not have the time to create your own budget spreadsheet or research thousands of investable mutual funds and ETFs. So starting with basic budgeting or investing is a great way to eat the elephant one bite at a time.
Check In with yourself and with your spouse
Once you have set your smaller goals, set a time to complete them. Consider holding a monthly financial/budget session with your spouse to discuss what worked and didn’t work over the course of the month. If you are running into a persistent issue or find that your plan of execution doesn’t really fit your schedule, then adjust from there. Changing long held financial behaviors takes time and attention. By setting up these times to check in with your plan allows you to be more aware of habits you want to change or roadblocks you might not have predicted.
We know that reaching goals will take significant time and, in that time, life will interrupt. To avoid fatigue and these evitable disruptions in progress, reward incremental progress. If you reach your savings goal or manage to cut down your variable expenses for the month, reward yourself. If you are wary of rewarding good financial behavior with bad financial behavior (i.e. buying yourself an unnecessary item) consider the gift of time. Spending an afternoon in nature, playing with your children, or taking your spouse to a movie.
Ultimately, not all of us have the time or understanding that it might take to make significant changes to our financial situation. If you find yourself going in circles, it may be time to reach out to a professional. At WealthPoint, we pride ourselves on the stress relief we can provide clients by decoding their financial situation and providing simple advice to act upon. Adding a knowledgeable partner to your team might allow you some accountability and peace of mind knowing that someone is looking out for you and your goals.
At the end of the day, remember that financial independence is a process and there is never a wrong time to begin your journey. Perhaps we could eschew the New Year’s Resolution convention all together and agree to recommit our resolutions every day.