With the new year fast approaching, many are considering the New Year’s resolutions they’re going to make and work toward — but also probably break. We’re only human, after all.

Still, one resolution that can pay off handsomely is to set financial goals. Without specific targets or budgets, one is likely to spend more than they can afford. Setting goals establishes a baseline for financial security and independence, especially when you revisit them annually.

Short-Term, Midterm, and Long-Term Financial Goals

As for a starting point, you should first try setting a timeframe for the goals you want to pursue. Forming a list of goals across multiple time frames provides you with a holistic insight into your financial health.

Many economists suggest viewing your goals across the following three time ranges:

Short-Term Goals

Short-term goals establish financial sustainability. They’re functions that are relatively easy to execute and achievable within about a year, such as instituting a budget, paying off credit debt, opening a savings account as an emergency fund, or starting a retirement fund.

Midterm Goals

Midterm milestones are critical links between your immediate and future financial plans. They should be achievable anywhere between one and five years, and they can include things such as buying a house, starting a business, obtaining term life and disability insurance, paying off your student loans, funding a child’s college education, and other such initiatives.

Long-Term Goals

When we talk about long-term financial goals, we’re usually referring to retirement planning. The sooner one can start saving, the more financial flexibility they’ll have when it’s finally time to close up shop. Long-term goals include deciding what lifestyle you’ll want to have and setting up monthly retirement plan contributions alongside will and estate planning.

Tips for Setting Your New Year Financial Goals

Once you’ve sorted out your goals, you’re prepared to break them down into practical and achievable measures. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

Make the Goals Clear, Precise, and Measurable

Ask yourself what kind of house you want to live in and the kind of car you would like to buy, then determine the debts you want to pay off first and how much you can afford to repay. Be as specific as possible with your goals and your math.

Make the Goals Your Own

Some set financial goals as a means of “keeping up with the Joneses,” comparing themselves with other people’s objectives. That’s never a solid basis to work from. Set goals according to what you want to achieve, not what others are doing, and get clear as to why you want to achieve them.

Commit Your Goals to Paper

Even though we live in a widely digital world, something about writing one’s goals down on paper lends them an air of authenticity. Whether on a sheet of paper or a Post-It note, write your goals down and put them in places you’ll see every day.

Answer to Someone

If you’re married or in a relationship, ask your spouse or partner if they would be willing to be your accountability partner to check up on your goals. If you’re single, ask a very trusted friend, or if you can afford one, hire a financial professional to keep your budget in line.

Start the Year Off Right

Setting solid financial goals is the first step to a successful new year, so set aside some time to think closely about what they are, whether they’re immediate needs or big dreams.

 

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