Are you considering a financial new year’s resolution for 2015? According to Statistic Brain, 34% of New Year’s resolutions are money-related. For 2014, saving more money and spending less was the third most popular resolution. Unfortunately, only eight percent of the people surveyed were successful with their resolution (financial or otherwise).
While there are many different factors that can affect the success of your resolution, starting out with a well-thought-out goal can boost your chances. So when you set your financial goals for the new year, make sure that they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding, and Timely.
A specific goal is easier to plan for. “Create an emergency fund” is a well-intentioned goal, but there’s no way to determine when you’ve achieved it. Instead, try something like: by the end of the year, I want to save three months’ worth of necessary expenses to use for emergencies.
Are you on track to meet your financial goal? If your goal is too vague, you might not have any way of knowing. Create a goal that allows you to track your progress. This will help you know when you must make adjustments to your spending and saving habits to reach your goal.
You don’t want your goals to be too easy, but you don’t want them to be impossible, either. Set a goal that challenges you to make realistic changes in your life to attain something worthwhile. If the goal isn’t worthwhile, you might not be motivated; if the challenges aren’t realistic, you might be discouraged by your lack of progress.
Achieving your goals should have an impact on your life; they should encourage personal growth and/or bring a satisfying change in your life.
Your goals should be set within a specific time frame. Decide not just what you want to save for, but also know when you want to have that money saved. Without a target date, it can be easy to drift along. Sure, you might eventually achieve your goal, but you might have been able to do so sooner and more efficiently had you set a specific end date.
Your financial goals
So, what do you want to do with your money in 2015? Do you want to pay off all of your credit card debt? Or max out your IRA contributions? Whatever your financial goals might be, making them SMART will help you manage your money and make sound financial decisions.