We all have financial goals, be it being debt-free, owning a home or breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. However, what separates those who achieve their financial goals and those who don’t is the process of transforming those goals into reality. Here are tried, tested and proven ways to achieving your 2016 financial goals.
Let it be clear what you want to do this year, if you haven’t done so already. Remember, financial goals do not just happen, you make them happen by first outlining where you desire to be by the end of the year. Do not set goals out of the blues; take time out for introspection, consult and read widely to enable you set SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, results- oriented and time bound. Start from where you are financially and set a clear trajectory of where you want to be.
Develop a strategy
Once you know where you are headed, you need to develop a strategy on how you will reach there. After you have outlined your SMART goals, you need to have a plan in place on how to reach them. The rule of the thumb in finance is to spend less than you earn and save the difference – you can never go wrong with this.
Become financially literate
Making money is one thing, saving and making it grow is another one. Wealth creation is one of the common financial goals that people set since wealth is something to be desired. And who wouldn’t want to be rich? You need some form of financial literacy to enable you effectively attain this goal and attending a financial management class would do you good. The more financially knowledgeable you are, the fewer the mistakes you are likely to make.
Let your lifestyle reflect your income
Avoid living beyond your means. Ensure you can comfortably pay your bills and save without borrowing. Many people fall into trouble when they feel entitled to a living standard that exceeds what they can afford. Always buy what you need and avoid, as much as possible, impulse buying. If you are a fresh graduate and you have just landed your first job, start saving before responsibilities come calling.
Borrow for investment
If you have to borrow money, borrow to invest and not to finance a lifestyle you cannot afford. Reduce your debt: Most people have debts such as a student loan, a car loan and emergency loan – you name it. If you are in one, you need to concentrate more on clearing the debt. If you have a lot of debt, use all available funds to pay it off. If you have a little debt, use one third of your income to clear it.
Give yourself a time limit
On the sheet where you have written your financial goals, add a column for time limit. It is prudent that the time limit be realistic and it will depend on whether it is a short or long- term goal. Short-term goals require less time and are the easiest to achieve while long-term goals take more time, say five years. Whether short-term or long-term, you need to start working towards them now. Keep reviewing your progress and make necessary changes where needed.
Accept to be accountable
The principle of accountability lies in the fact that you will not be your own judge, jury and executioner. In this sense, your accountability partner will keep you on your toes. But don’t share your goals with every Tom, Dick and Harry; only share them with a genuine person who you are sure will help you achieve them. Look for someone who exhibits financial maturity to avoid a scenario of a blind person leading another blind person.
Achieving financial goals is something most people strive for. It’s not easy but it is attainable if only you understand your priorities, set goals and have financial discipline.
Published in February 2016