Set and achieve financial goals in the new year [Column]

If the start of 2023 has inspired a healthier approach to your finances, you may be wondering how to do it and where to start.

Should you focus on curbing your spending habits? earn more? invest wisely? All of the above? Here are some practical suggestions to help you improve your financial forecasts this year and in the years ahead.

Visualize your future

Setting financial goals involves brainstorming. Take the time to consider what you want your financial future to look like and what it will take to get there. Your goals will flow from the life you want to create for yourself.

Be specific

It is difficult to work on goals that are too broad or vague. You need to know the dollar amounts. For example, if you want to trade in an old car, don’t put a price tag on your next car. Or if you want to buy a first (or second) home, decide how much down payment you need and what monthly payments you can afford. With these details in hand, you can calculate how much you need to save each month to meet a specific goal.

define the priorities

Choose a manageable number of goals to work towards. It is best to start small and build on your successes. You can categorize goals into lists of achievable short-term goals, five-year goals, and long-term goals. The sequence of achieving the goal often falls into place. For example, common sense suggests building your emergency fund and paying off high-interest debt before contributing to a college tuition fund.

Attach schedules

Goal setting is meaningless without milestones and target dates. Set reasonable and achievable timelines.

Document your goals

You’ll need a visual reminder of your goals to make it a part of your routine. Create a spreadsheet, put pen to paper, or—ideally—work with a financial advisor who can help you set your goals and document your progress against them. Set a reminder on your phone to review your goals daily, weekly or monthly. Doing so will keep you focused on being held accountable for achieving them.

Match goals to your budget

Realistic financial goals, living within budget. Ideally, your budget will provide guidelines and guardrails for earning, spending, and saving—key to successful setting of financial goals.

Retrain your mind

Goal setting can feel like deprivation if you view it as simply cutting back on spending. Reframe your thinking to overcome mental blockages. See the rewards of devoting your time and energy toward actions that move your financial life forward. You might give yourself a psychological boost by doing something nice for yourself during or after goal-setting activities. Over time, your brain will associate the two activities so that you find pleasure in both.

Be flexible

Goals are not static. If something changes in your circumstances, you can adjust your goals. If you need to reduce your investment budget while paying for much needed home repair, this is the life. Don’t let setbacks hold you back. Simply adjust and move forward.

Set yourself up for success

When you make the effort to set achievable financial goals, you’re halfway there. Once you begin to tackle each of your financial goals, you’ll be inspired to do more. Feelings of financial uncertainty will fade when you take your future into your own hands.

Get expert guidance

An experienced financial advisor can help you set financial goals. When it comes to applying savings and investing strategies for your future, their advice is invaluable.

Bronwyn L. Martin is a Financial Advisor and Certified Financial Advisor with Martin’s Financial Consulting Group, the financial wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services LLC. Based in Kennett Square and Havre de Grace, Maryland, she specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for over 22 years. Contact her:

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