We all set goals for ourselves, especially during the new year time. You might be thinking about starting that personal project you’ve been thinking about, taking that dream vacation (since just about every other person you know is in the hills, Goa, or the Maldives right now), doing that fitness program, and so on! Financially, you might have goals like sticking to your budget (for real this time), paying back your outstanding debt, and saving more money.
Before we get ahead of ourselves - let’s talk about how to set financial goals. The way you set goals can make or break your finances. Want to crush your goals, this year and every year? Read on for 3 simple steps to help you meet all your goals!
Take some time to think. Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. But seriously, take some time to think. Reflect. Ponder. How do financial matters make you feel? Do you feel overwhelmed? Confident? Both? There are no wrong answers here. Thinking about your financial habits and desires will help bring more awareness and intention to your goal setting practice. Not everyone will have the same financial goals or any goals for that matter, so let’s make sure we are setting the goals that are right for us.
Be S.M.A.R.T You’ve heard it a thousand times over, and rightfully so. The key to setting goals you can achieve, financial or otherwise, is setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Specific Want to save more money? Yeah, us too! Let’s be specific. How much money do you want to save? What areas of spending do you want to cut down on to save this money? A goal that is specific looks something like this: I want to save Rs. 1000 per week by cutting down my food delivery spending from Rs. 2500 to Rs. 1500 per week. Setting this specific goal of saving Rs. 1000 per week can save you Rs. 52,000 in a year! Measurable How are you measuring your goals? Are you measuring your goals? Setting goals is just the first step - in order to achieve them, we need to be tracking our progress to measure how close we are to success. Using the same example, let’s say you review your Zomato app spending every weekend to see how much you spent on ordering food, and then tally it up with your overall budget on a Google spreadsheet which has a column for food delivery expenditure. The key is to create a system for how you will measure your goals - some check-ins might be daily, while others will be weekly or monthly depending on the goals. Check it out! Google Sheets has free budgeting templates to help you track and measure your financial goals. Achievable Setting achievable goals is setting goals that inspire and motivate you to keep moving in the right direction. Think about the resources, tools and skills you might need to achieve your goal. Is it attainable? For example, if you’ve never invested before and your financial goal is to create an entire investment portfolio, you might want to take a step back. A more achievable first step to achieve your greater goal of investing would be to complete a course on financial literacy specific to investments. Check it out! Varsity by Zerodha is a free extensive platform that provides an in-depth collection of the stock market and financial lessons. Realistic Goals can be overwhelming. There’s a difference between goals that are ambitious and goals that are unrealistic. If you get coffee at Starbucks 7 times a week, a goal of getting coffee at Starbucks 3 times a week is a lot more realistic than no more coffee from Starbucks. Start somewhere, anywhere, and make sure your goals are realistic. Cold coffee, anyone? Timebound Time is money! To make sure you don’t lose time (or money), set goals that are timebound. If your goal is to save up X amount of money, set a target for how much you want to achieve by a certain deadline, say 3 or 6 months down the line. This will also help you plan backward to make your goals more specific and measurable.
Input > Output When we set goals, we think about the end results. While this helps in visualizing and motivating us, we believe it is best to be output driven and input focused. When you work day in and day out on the input, the output will take care of itself. As you create financial goals, you will create financial habits. Using our very first example, that input of getting coffee 3x a week at Starbucks instead of 7x is a simple input that has a surprisingly large output of annually saving Rs. 52,000.
As you set out to achieve your financial goals, take time to think, remember to be S.M.A.R.T, and stay output driven, input focused. We believe in you!