Congratulations! You have taken action to get your financial life in order. Whether your goal is saving, budgeting, investing, or repaying debt, the good news is that you started. As you begin your journey in achieving your goals, it can be difficult to stay committed and motivated consistently over time. The first important action you can take is to get organized. Here are five tips that you can utilize to ensure you stay on track towards your financial goals.
Identify and visualize
Write down every financial goal you currently have. Putting your goals on paper will not only help you start to organize your goals, but you can visualize them and get a better understanding of what exactly you are trying to accomplish.
Determine the order of importance of your goals and reorder them from most important to least important (i.e. debt repayment as your number one goal, if applicable) and which goals are less important (such as saving up for a vacation). Once you prioritize your goals in an order of importance, you will have a clear picture of where your money needs to be spent every month, and where you would like it to be spent. As long as you prioritize your living expenses, debt repayments (at least the minimum payments), and any other liability payments you might have, you can utilize the remaining income for your less-important goals such as saving up for that vacation you’ve been wanting to go on.
Determine how much of your monthly income you can afford to put into each of these goals after all necessary living expenses are funded. The remaining income should be prioritized using the order of importance that you determined.
The next step is to visualize the bigger picture. Try to imagine yourself in 10, 20, or 30 years from right now. While you imagine this, ask yourself, what kind of life do I want to have for myself in the future? Imagine what values are important to you, financially and personally, and take time to write them down. This can help you connect your current financial goals to your future self and maybe even come up with more goals.
Stick to your plan and monitor your progress regularly. This is a very important step to stay on track of your financial progress. An easy way to do this is to make a plan to do regular check-ins on the status of your goals, whether it is checking them every week or every month. It is important to create a routine that fits into your life. You can utilize technology to set up reminders/alarms so that you ensure to set aside some time to check your progress.
The road to success
I hope these tips were helpful as you organize your finances. Staying organized and consistently monitoring your progress are crucial steps to stay on top of your personal financial life. Should you find yourself overwhelmed and unable to manage your finances yourself, you have the option of working with financial professionals such as a personal financial advisor or a Certified Financial Planner®.
Written by Mark Herman, Financial Wellness for College Students Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Spring 2021.
Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, University of Illinois Extension.