Everyone has goals and objectives financially, whether they know it or not. Maybe you’d like to retire early, or maybe you’d just like to retire at all! Maybe you want to own your own home. Maybe you have a dream car that you would love to purchase some day, or you want to pay your kids’ way through college. These are all wonderful objectives, but you’re not going to reach them without a plan.
Let’s say I wanted to drive to Miami, FL from New York, NY. What do you think my chances are of getting there without a map or directions? At best, pretty slim. And if I ever get there at all, it will take me much longer than it would have if I’d just had a map in the first place. It’s the same for your financial goals: you need a map, you need a plan.
The first step to making that plan in my book is to prioritize. You need to sit down and create your personal list of priorities. Does saving for a house matter more, or going out to eat? Does the college fund outrank your retirement fund or is it the other way around? If you don’t know what matters more, or if your feeling is inconsistent, you’re not going to be very effective at saving, budgeting, or getting your finances in order.
Prioritizing seems like a simple, obvious idea, which it is; but it also isn’t easy to live out in your day-to-day existence. Long-term goals are hard to keep at the forefront of our minds because we often don’t feel like they affect our everyday lives. But the more you can keep your long-term goals in your mind, the more your life will match your dreams.
My husband and I, for example, like to go grocery shopping together whenever we can; and when one of us is tempted by cookies or snacks or cuts of meat that we have no business buying, we’ve taken to saying to each other, “We’re saving for a house.” My passing craving for cookies usually disappears pretty quickly in the face of what I really want.
Remembering what really matters at the crucial moment will help a guy who can’t stop buying the latest gadgets and electronics even though he has no savings and his car is on its last legs. It will help a woman who is forgoing life insurance because she “can’t afford it,” but chooses to buy more shoes than any sane, rational person should possess.
I’m not saying that having goals or having priorities means that you never have any fun again. But knowing your priorities is what lets you create a budget you can live with. Being able to travel or try new restaurants may be one of your top priorities because it’s something you really enjoy. That’s great, but I’m guessing that paying your mortgage is more important. And when you get into the day-to-day grind or life throws you a curveball, you need to be prepared to live with your goals in mind.
That’s because priorities do not exist on paper. Priorities are what you demonstrate to the world with the way you live your life. So before you attempt to straighten out your money or create a budget you can stick to, answer this question: What are your priorities?
How to Meet Your Financial Goals is a Guest Post by Sabrina at Life Insurance Comparison