Setting Financial Goals, The First Step In Turning Your Dreams Into Reality Part II
I decided to resurrect this article (with some changes due to events that have happened this year) from my website because of the time of year it is. With New Year's Day being less than a week away, this is the time of year where many of us reflect on the past year, re-examine our dreams, desires and goals and make resolutions for the upcoming year.
Some of us are more successful at keeping those resolutions than others. There are those people who say they want to make changes to improve their lives this year that make a few resolutions, but don't do anything about them at all. It's as if they said it only because they felt it was expected of them or they were hoping that things will change by themselves without any effort on their part.
Then there are those people who make the resolutions work at it for a month or two and give up when they don't see progress quickly enough or because they really didn't want to make the change to begin with. There are people who decide if they just try a little harder, apply themselves more to their current work they will do better for themselves even though they know they were working hard enough already.
I have to admit, I used to be one of those people. My parents taught me to believe that if you work hard enough, you will succeed. They were right to a certain extent. I started off as a cashier and I became a store manager eventually. To that end I was successful. But when you reach a certain plateau, no matter what career you are in you will reach a point where working harder will not bring you any more than you already have.
If you continue to do the same things you are already doing you will only have the same results that you have right now. Most successful people will tell you that it did not happen overnight. That they failed a few times first, learned from their mistakes, adapted and changed their plans and tried again. Their commitment to change their lives and their commitment to implementing their action plan is what eventually made them succeed.
The only way things will change for you financially or otherwise is if you decide that you want to make changes. Once that decision is really and truly made you have to make a plan of action to implement those changes. Then you have to make a commitment to implement your action plan and stick with it. Your dreams will stay just dreams if you do not back them up with a plan of action.
If you have not set goals before and are not sure where to start here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started:
What do you want out of life?
How high do you want your net worth to be?
Can you accomplish that net worth in your current career or will you have to return to school to accomplish it? Can you accomplish it by some refresher courses or by adding to a degree you already have or will you have to start at the beginning again? Can you do this at a regular State College or will you have to go to a specialized or trade school?
Do you want a bigger house, a vacation home or a boat?
Do you want your children to go to college?
When you retire will you live in the same home you live in now?
Do you want to travel when you retire?
Do you wish to sell your home and retire to your vacation home permanently?
When you retire from your career will you take it easy or will you work part time?
Would you like to turn a long time hobby into a business once you retire?
Now here are some questions you need to think about when you are starting to formulate a plan to reach some of these goals or items on your wish list. Keep in mind you also need to think about the amount of money the goal will cost and the amount of time you want to accomplish it in.
What do you have now? You can get a free balance sheet that you can use to figure out your net worth by going to http://www.yourdollarsandsense-budgets.com/balanceworksheet.html.
What do you want to have? This is where your dreams and your wish list come in.
What will it take to get you what you want? Can you do that with your current company or do you need to consider going to another company for more money? Do you need to consider a second job? Or do you need to consider more education like I discussed earlier?
What will it cost to buy the house you really want? If you currently rent, a house is an investment. If you already own a home, you need to ask yourself if a different home is a need or want. If your family is growing and space is an issue, then it is a need. If you want your children to grow up in a better neighborhood or attend a better school district, this is also a need.
If you are thinking of selling your home just because you want a better home, you have to ask yourself if it really is worth it?
Will you make enough money from this home so your mortgage payments won't be too much higher than they are now? Can you accomplish the same thing by taking out a home equity loan or line of credit and fix up your current home?
Are you willing to take longer to reach your other financial goals just to have the home that you want?
How much will it cost to give your children the college education you want them to have? Will you handle the whole cost or will you expect them to get a part time job to pay for their books and to earn their own pocket money? They need to know what you expect of them and they need to know what they can expect from you.
Have your parents provided well enough for themselves during retirement? Will you have to help them out financially should one or both of them become ill? Will they need to live with you if that happens? Do you have the space or the money to make the necessary adjustments if that does happen?
How much will it cost to retire with the lifestyle that you want?
How much time do you have to accomplish theses things? Whether you have 20, 30 or 40 years to accomplish these things will make differences in the answers to the questions.
These are only some of the things you need to think about. It depends on what you have now and where you want your life to go. That is different for everyone. Only you can decide. Only you can choose what you want the next year to be for you and what you are and are not willing to do to accomplish those things. Deciding to make a change won't work if you don't take the actions necessary to make those changes.
It can be done though. People change their lives for the better all of the time. All it takes is the desire to come up with a plan to make the changes and the determination to stick to the plan and see it through. Knowing full well that there will be bumps in the road and things will come up unexpectedly but adapting and changing with the unexpected and getting back on the road again.
You can do it if you want to do it badly enough. Start small if you have to. An extra five or ten dollars a month saved in a retirement account or put toward debt over time does make a difference. Don't think that because you can't start off with a bang or with some grand gesture that you should not start at all. Time and compounding interest is on your side and works even when you start small as long as you keep at it.
Now it's time for you to decide. Are you going to be one of those people who makes the resolutions and forgets about them? Or one of those people that keep doing the same things and expects different results? The same things will only bring you the same results. Or are you going to be one of those people who has decided that next year and every year after will be better than the year before and act on it?
About the Author
Teresa Kaufman is the owner/creator of
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