Achieving financial success usually takes a little more than just luck.
It takes extreme discipline, dedication and repeated sacrifice.
It takes setting short and long term financial goals and then following through on promises to yourself.
All things the majority of Americans seem to struggle with.
Fortunately, research suggests that simply jotting down a list of financial goals makes you 42% more likely to achieve them.
Not bad for merely putting pen on paper.
Every once in a while Lady Luck steps in and changes someones life…odds are that person won't be you.
Don’t be the person who indefinitely waits on her as your basis for achieving financial success.
That’s akin to holding out on that impending lottery win we all feel coming, but never actually does.
Being able to afford a house, your kids’ college tuition, and retiring comfortably-ever-after will most likely be on you.
Lucius Seneca’s quote is as true today as it was in ancient Rome:Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.Click To Tweet
For those of you who are still lost:
It means you're responsible for creating your own luck.
By having a clear financial road-map and setting firm financial goals, opportunities for success are more likely to arise.
If your personal finances are in ruin, or you're simply looking for ways to save more money, check out our ultimate list of financial goals below (along with a few tips to help you get started). Many goals you can start working towards right now.
1. Build an emergency fund
No money goal is worth having if losing your place of shelter becomes a very real possibility.
Since it's all but impossible to know what life will throw at you, it becomes important to have a little extra stashed away at all times.
An emergency fund is “an account used to set aside funds needed in the event of a personal financial dilemma, such as the loss of a job, a debilitating illness or a major expense.”
Most experts recommend putting away at least 3 months of living expenses into said account – and more if you can afford to do so.
Don't let an unforeseen expense ruin an otherwise healthy financial outlook.
2. Get out of debt
If getting out of debt wasn't your first priority, it should be. That's not to lessen the importance of anything else on a list of financial goals, its merely to highlight just how damaging debt can be to achieving financial independence.
Don't become a victim to a vicious loop of minimum payments and accrued interest. Putting it off only makes it harder to eliminate, and worse yet, you may end up trashing your credit score in the mean time.
Jeff Rose, CFP® lists some no brainer reasons for getting out of debt:
3. Keep accurate records
If merely writing down your goals makes you 42% more likely to achieve them, it goes without saying that accurately tracking your spending creates a further sense of accountability. By creating a money journal of sorts, you can track past successes (and failures), learn from your mistakes, and identify areas for improvement.
Plus tracking your goals becomes a breeze because you have reference points and objective data from which to draw conclusions.
J. Money over at Budgets Are Sexy doesn't keep a journal…but he does track his net worth via his blog where readers are welcome to follow along. The blog also makes him several thousand dollars per year (hint: not a bad idea).
4. Create (and follow) a budget plan
WAYHOME studio | Shutterstock
Have you ever actually sat down and tried to create a budget? Apparently 32% of you have – or at least that's what the results of a recent Gallup poll would suggest.
And that's a good thing.
For the the other 68% however, what is stopping you? Taking the time to categorize your spending can be a huge eye opener. If the majority of your spending is in the housing/car/loans section vs the latte, Dolce, and Rolex department you're on the right track.
A good budgetary guide is the 50/20/30 rule. 50% essential spending (rent, transportation, utilities) – 20% towards financial goals (saving or paying off debt) – and 30% is flexible (expenses that can vary from month to month, like eating out, groceries, shopping, hobbies, entertainment, or gas).
5. Improve your credit score
One of the more popular items on our list of financial goals is how you can improve your credit score.
The good news? It may not be as hard as you think. The bad? It's going to take some time.
Get an idea of what your score is by checking it for free with Credit Sesame.
If you're in a hurry these 4 things can help raise your score almost overnight:
6. Avoid large unnecessary purchases
This one is pretty self explanatory but continues to be a huge problem for many people. If you're netting $1200/month after taxes, you cannot afford a $450.00 monthly car payment (think 50/20/30 rule under #4 above) no matter how bad you want that new Camaro 2SS.
If you're falling deeper into debt with each passing month, there will come a point in time where you may have to accept that the brand new iPhone 7 that you want so bad will have to wait just a tad bit longer…and that the 6s you still have operates just fine.
Define what is important to you and cut out the rest. Do you need that brand new ATV you saw at Bass Pro? Do you need that new handbag you saw on “sale” at T.J. Maxx? Or do you merely want them? Turning down something you want may be hard but its that sort of discipline you need to truly change your financial outlook.
7. Save on utilities
Just because you have to spend money on utilities doesn't mean you have to spend that much on utilities.
Look for ways to save electricity and slash your heating/cooling costs.
Reduce your cable bill and get rid of infrequently used paid channels (like HBO/sports packages).
Be frugal. You can save hundreds of dollars each month by cutting costs on mandatory expenses.
8. Get a side hustle
Ah yes, the now famous side hustle. Have you heard of it? If you haven't, you're clearly falling behind the times.
As of 2017, 44 million Americans have one – and of those that do, 36% report making $500.00 (or more) per month from theirs.
How does an extra $500 a month sound to you?
Some of the more popular side hustles out there at the moment are paid surveys, mystery shopping and blogging.
If you've got a knack for telling stories you can start your own blog with HostGator in as little as 10 minutes (and for less than $3/month).
Trade a cup of coffee for your own business that could earn over $10,000/month? Seems like a no-brainer.
Use coupon code “BTOP60” to get 60% off the price of your blog (this offer expires soon!)
Even more side hustle ideas:
- How to Get Paid to Watch Netflix
- 35 Legitimate Ways to Make Money Online
- How this Nurse Built a $100,000 Side Hustle by 28
- 10 Ways to Make an Extra $1,000 at Home this Month
9. Read 3 personal finance books
Don't just take it from us, there are lots of places out there to find quality information on reaching your financial goals.
And no list of financial goals would be complete without having to read a good book or two – knowledge truly is power!
Some must reads are:
10. Learn a new skill
If you're actively choosing to stay the same – to do nothing to change your circumstances – nothing will change.
You have to want that change.[bctt tweet=”Complacency is the forerunner of mediocrity. You can never work too hard on attitudes & effort.”]
Learning a new skill provides just that opportunity.
Better yourself in your workplace. Switch your area of expertise entirely. In the 21st century there are ample opportunities to learn a second skill at home all the while holding down a full-time job. It's often time consuming, and a lot of hard work goes into it, but at some point in the future you'll be better equipped to take on new (and perhaps better paying) responsibilities.
Caitlin Pyle of ProofreadAnywhere made over $43,000 by working as a freelance proofreader…in her spare time. When she wasn’t working, she even had time to go on several fun vacations.
After she had a ton of success doing that, she decided she wanted to teach others how to do the same thing, so she started up Proofread Anywhere.
Sign up for her free workshop to learn more about making money as a proofreader.
His areas of expertise include CMS Support, Social Media Branding, Content Marketing and Advertising.
He currently holds a BS from Virginia Tech and a BSN from Western Governor's University.