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Learn the best money goals to set now to live a richer life!
And if you need a quick and easy way to make money to help fund your financial goals, get paid to take surveys with Swagbucks and Survey Junkie!
Do you have some money goals that you’ve been trying to reach?
I’m all about setting goals — for my business, for how many books I’m going to read each month, for our homeschooling and especially when it comes to money.
Every year in January, I outline two to three HUGE personal money goals I want to check off the list. I love the challenge of setting some BIG targets for myself!
Setting goals can be a huge motivator for getting your finances in order. And the great thing about it is that even if you’ve never tried it before, you can start at any time.
If you’re ready to start living a richer life, here are 10 smart financial goals that can help you get there!
Short-Term Financial Goals
Short-term financial goals are money goals that you can complete fairly quickly.
I like setting short-term financial goals because they’re an easy way to get a quick win.
Being able to check off one of your financial goals in a matter of weeks or months can give you the motivation you need to pursue mid-term and long-term financial goals.
1. Get caught up on all your bills
Falling behind on bills can result in a pile of late fees and it could ding your credit score.
If you’ve gotten behind on bills because you’ve been laid off or your hours have been cut at work, then getting caught up should be your first priority.
Make a list of any bills you’re behind on. Then figure out how much you can afford to pay toward each one.
If you can’t get caught up all at once, call each company you owe money to and ask if you can work out a payment plan. That can put the brakes on more late fees.
2. Make a budget if you don’t have one
Budgeting is one of the most important personal finance skills you need to master. And it’s really not that hard.
A budget is a plan for how you’ll spend your money each month.
On one side, you have your income. On the other, you have your expenses.
Once you make a rough budget, you can go back and see where you may be able to cut back on spending.
A really simple way to do this is to let a service like Billshark do the work for you. Billshark reviews your spending to look for wasted money and negotiates to lower your bills for you.
3. Save $1,000 in a baby emergency fund
Having some emergency savings in the bank can be a lifesaver when you have an unexpected expense.
But 21% of Americans have nothing in emergency savings and if you’re one of them, saving some money is an important short-term financial goal to tackle.
Going over your budget can help you find the money to save. But if you’ve already done that and are still coming up short, you can try these tips to get the money you need to build emergency savings:
- Declutter your house and sell off things you don’t need
- Earn extra cash using the best survey sites
- Get cashback when you shop with Ibotta and Rakuten
- Try a no-spend weekend to save money
These are simple things you can try to get the extra money you need for a starter emergency fund. Check out these posts for more money-making ideas:
Mid-Term Financial Goals
Mid-term financial goals are money goals that you may want to achieve in the next five to seven years.
These goals can help you create a firmer money foundation, so let’s get to work!
4. Build a larger emergency fund
Having $1,000 in the bank can help with small emergencies.
But if something big comes along, like an extended layoff or illness that keeps you from working that money will only go so far.
So the first mid-term financial goal to add to your list is beefing up your emergency fund.
Most financial experts say you should have at least three to six months’ worth of expenses in the bank. But I don’t think it hurts to bump that up to nine to 12 months’.
2020 was a great example of why it pays to have more cash stashed away. Nearly 14% of people who had some emergency savings saw it totally wiped out thanks to job losses and rising expenses.
Go back to your budget and figure out the money amount of money you need to maintain a basic standard of living each month. Then multiply that by six, nine or 12 to figure out how big of an emergency fund you should have.
So if your monthly expenses are $3,000, your emergency fund should be anywhere from $18,000 to $36,000.
I get that saving that amount of money might seem overwhelming, especially if you live paycheck to paycheck. Which is why the next money goal on the list is so important.
5. Grow your income
Cutting your budget can only take you so far in reaching your money goals.
Finding ways to make more money really is the key to getting ahead, or at least it was for me.
The good news is, there are so many ways to increase your income.
For example, you could ask for a raise, take on more hours at work or, my personal favorite, start a side hustle.
Side hustles are great because you can do them online (or off), they’re flexible and you can make a ton of money doing them!
If you need some legit side hustle ideas, here are some of my favorite ways to make extra money:
- Make money freelance writing (this is how I make over $20,000 a month!)
- Get paid to proofread
- Make money with online typing jobs
- Start a virtual assistant business
- Get paid to teach on Outschool
- Teach kids yoga from home
- Get paid to lose weight
- Become an online stylist
Those are just some of the ways you can increase your income. Another of my favorite ways to make money is by starting a blog!
Blogging is super easy to get started with. You just need hosting and a domain name.
You can make money blogging in lots of different ways, including:
- Sponsored posts
- Affiliate marketing
- Offering services (like freelancing or graphic design)
- Creating digital products
I make a few thousand dollars a month just from ads and affiliates with this blog so I know it can be done.
6. Pay off your debt
Debt can be one of the biggest obstacles to reaching your money goals.
Think about it.
It’s hard to save money when you’re shelling out hundreds or even thousands of dollars to debt each month. And not only is it financially defeating but it can be mentally stressful, too.
So the next goal to tackle is getting rid of credit cards, student loans, car loans and other debts that are draining you financially.
With credit cards, there are a few methods you can try:
- Debt snowball
- Debt avalanche
- Debt consolidation loans
- 0% APR balance transfer credit card
All of those options can help you get out of debt faster, even on a low income.
An effortless way to approach debt repayment if you don’t know how to make the snowball or avalanche method work is to let an app do it for you.
If you have student loan debt, refinancing your loans could help you save money and pay them off quicker.
Refinancing student loans just means getting a new loan to pay off the old one at a lower interest rate.
If you’re interested in student loan refinancing, be sure to shop around and compare lenders first. Check out Supermoney to see how different loan offers stack up.
7. Save for a down payment on a home
If you don’t own a home yet, buying one might be on your list of mid-term financial goals you’re trying to reach.
I’m on my third home and overall, I still think buying is a good investment if it’s cheaper than renting.
If you want to buy a home, you’ll need some money for your down payment and closing costs.
The amount you need to save depends on how big of a mortgage you’re getting.
But creating a separate savings account to hold your down payment fund can make it easier to track your progress.
For that, I prefer online banks since they tend to offer higher interest rates and charge fewer fees.
If you need an online savings account recommendation, take a look at Axos Bank. They offer a stellar APY on savings with no minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees.
Long-Term Financial Goals
Long-term financial goals are ones that can take several years to complete.
These are the bigger goals that can determine what your financial future looks like.
One of the best things to know about setting long-term financial goals is that time really is on your side.
So the sooner you get started working on these goals, the better!
8. Get the right insurance in place
Insurance is designed to help protect you financially, and your loved ones if you have a family.
The most common kinds of insurance you might need include:
- Car insurance
- Homeowner’s insurance if you own a home
- Renter’s insurance if you rent
- Health insurance
- Disability insurance
- Life insurance
Life insurance is something you might not be thinking about if you’re young and healthy.
But the advantage of buying a policy now is that you can get it at cheap rates.
Having life insurance can help to pay off any debts you might leave behind if something happens to you. So if your parents cosigned your student loans, for example, you could name them as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy so they have money to pay them off.
And it can provide some financial security for your spouse and/or kids as well if you’re the main income-earner for your family.
Shopping for life insurance is similar to shopping for student loans if you’re refinancing. It pays to compare your options.
One company I like is Haven Life.
They make it super easy to find affordable life insurance online and their rates are competitive.
9. Start saving for retirement
One of my biggest financial regrets is waiting until my 30s to start saving for retirement.
If you haven’t started putting away money for retirement yet, make this one of your top money goals.
There are different ways to save for retirement.
If you have 401(k) or a similar plan at work, that’s an obvious choice. Especially if you can get free money through a company matching contribution.
Aside from that, you could also open a traditional or Roth Individual Retirement Account. These accounts let you save for retirement while scoring some tax breaks.
An online brokerage account is a third option.
Brokerage accounts don’t give you the same tax benefits as a 401(k) or IRA. But there are no annual contribution limits so you can invest as little or as much money as you’re able to.
If you’re looking for a brokerage account, pay attention to the fees. Trading fees can eat up a big chunk of your investment earnings so it doesn’t make sense to pay more money than you have to.
One good option for low-fee trading is M1 Finance.
You can easily invest in stocks and exchange-traded funds with M1 Finance for free!
Investments can be automated and you can even open a high yield checking account to manage your money in one place.
10. Consider a college savings plan if you have kids
College is incredibly expensive and tuition prices just seem to keep climbing.
Opening a 529 college savings account can help you save money for college and snag some tax benefits so your kids don’t get stuck with huge piles of student loan debt.
If you’re prioritizing saving for retirement, you may not have a lot to spare toward college savings.
But don’t let that stop you from starting anyway.
With an app like UNest, for example, you can build college savings with as little as $25 a month.
You can set up automatic contributions and manage college savings from your phone. And there’s even a gifting feature that lets friends and family members chip in to your kids’ college fund to boost your savings.
How to Achieve Your Money Goals
I get feeling clueless about goal-setting when it comes to your money.
And I also get that even if you do know where to start, you still might be struggling to make any progress on your goals.
So here are some of my best tips for actually reaching your financial goals!
1. Figure out how much money you have
It’s really easy to say you want to save XX amount of money or pay off a certain amount of debt.
But if you don’t know how much money you actually have to put towards your goal, that’s a recipe for failure.
This is why you need to have a budget in place.
If you’re spending more than you earn, for example, you might have a much harder time reaching your money goals.
So go over your budget again and figure out where you can find the extra money you need to make your goals a reality.
2. Prioritize your money goals
You might have 10 different things you want to do with your money.
But not everything you want to do will have the same impact on your finances. And not everything can be done in the same time frame.
So you have to prioritize your financial goals, by order of importance.
For example, if you’re a Dave Ramsey follower, then your financial goals go in order something like this:
- Build a starter emergency fund
- Pay off all your debt (except your mortgage)
- Build a bigger emergency fund
- Save for retirement
- Put money away for college if you have kids
- Pay off your mortgage
- Then give, give, give!
And it’s totally fine to do it that way if you want.
But you have to ask yourself if that order lines up with your priorities.
For example, you might be carrying around student loan debt that’s sucking the soul right out of you (not to mention draining money away from your budget.)
Getting rid of those loans ASAP could be priority number one if you have a deep emotional need to get that monkey off your back. Then, you could shift your focus to saving.
So figure out what’s most important to you, money-wise, then work on that first.
3. Get SMART about your financial goals
The concept of using SMART goals actually started in the business world with Pete Drucker, who developed a theory of management by objectives.
The TL;DR version of his theory is that for objectives or goals to work, they need to be SMART:
If you can make these five pieces work together, you’ve got a much better shot at seeing positive results.
4. Break it down
If you’re super detail-oriented, you can help yourself out by writing down the individual steps you need to take to reach your money goals.
Say your goal is to save $10,000 over the next 12 months. To do that, you know you’ll need to save around $833/month on average.
Your family’s paychecks come in every other week, from which you can afford to save $200. That’s $5,200 a year.
And once a year, your spouse gets a $2,000 bonus from work, bringing your savings to $7,200.
You’ve got a $2,800 gap to cover, which comes out to about $233 a month.
So, your action steps to hit your $10,000 goal might be:
- Set up a dedicated high-yield savings account and link it to your checking account
- Schedule a $200 automatic transfer from savings to checking every payday
- Commit the $2,000 bonus to savings as soon as it comes in
- Switch from name brands to store brands for five items on your regular grocery list for a $50/month savings
- Cut your kids’ hair at home to save $30/month
- Eliminate dining out altogether to save $150/month
Your action steps will be different, based on your goal, but you get the idea.
Once you make those steps really focused, you’ve got a plan you can follow without having to overthink it.
5. Try the buddy system
If you’ve got a mom friend or a family member or even a blogging friend who’s also trying to crush their money goals, why not do it together?
Having someone who can hold you accountable for your goals (and vice versa) can be huge for reaching your goals.
It’s a lot harder to make an impulse buy or skip saving for the month when you’ve got to account for that to someone else.
Pick someone you trust and who you know will encourage you. Set boundaries on what you share and plan regular check-ins.
6. Use the right tools to help you reach your goals
Having a plan can take you far when it comes to making your money goals work. But it also helps to have the right money tools.
For example, say that you’ve struggled with saving and investing in the past. Why not use a tool that helps you save money automatically?
That’s what Acorns can help you do. You link your bank account to Acorns and the app automatically reviews your spending to look for small amounts of money you can save.
Once it finds those amounts, Acorns transfers the money to savings for you. Easy peasy and a practically painless way to grow your savings.
7. If you mess up, keep going
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard these wise words of wisdom many a time:
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
And Dory — though she may be forgetful and let’s face it, a little annoying at times — is on to something here.
When something doesn’t work or you fail big-time, it’s tempting to just give up and not take another step.
But that won’t get you closer to your money goals.
So if you screw up, don’t panic.
Instead, regroup, review your goals and refocus on what you need to do next to get back on track.
It’s effort and persistence that matters for reaching your money goals, not doing it absolutely perfectly.
Reaching Your Money Goals Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult
This year, my biggest goals were buying a home, selling the one I already owned and growing a consistent part-time income from my blog.
And I’m happy to say I’ve done all three of those things!
Now I want to hear from you!
What financial goal are you chasing down, big or small? And what do you plan to do to make it happen?
Head to the comments and tell me about it! And please pin and share this post if it helped you!