Setting financial goals

PUBLISHED ON Monday, 16 August 2021

Goals get you to a goal – even when it comes to money and finances. They are indispensable to achieving financial freedom and therefore to being able to bring your dreams to life. Dreaming your dreams is all well and good. Living them, though, is a whole other level. And in order to achieve them, you need…solid financial goals. You can take these goals and draw plans and suitable action steps out of them…and put them in place! Just wait and see…it’s going to be muuuuch easier this way than you’re thinking it is right now. You know what? Let’s just go for it! :)

Activity

Set yourself five goals! Find yourself a nice empty notebook or notepad and jot them down. By hand! Use the following guidelines to help you:

Clear and precise

Formulate your financial goals as clearly and precisely as possible. “Improve my financial situation and get insanely rich” sounds really great, but it’s pretty…ambiguous. Formulate it this way instead: “Pay off my loan by the end of next year” or “negotiate a 20% pay raise by the end of August.”

Measurable

Formulate it such that you can measure your goal! Example: “I’m going to save 300 euros a month starting now for my next vacation.”

Actionable

Make sure there’s something tangible you can actually do right now to reach your goal. Write out what you can do every week and every month to get one step closer to your goal. It doesn’t matter how small the step is or seems. The main thing is that you take it.

Realistic

Dream big! And set yourself challenging yet realistic goals along the way.

Timing

Set yourself deadlines and define time frames. Write down when you want to have achieved the goal, along with the intermediate steps you’ll take along the way…and by when! What are you going to do weekly, monthly, and quarterly on the way to your financial goal?

Then set up a schedule based on this, splitting up each goal into individual little steps. Let’s say your goal is to save a total of 6000 euros in the next 12 months. This means that you’ll have to save 500 euros every month or 116 euros every week. Do the same with your other goals, splitting them up into digestible, practical nibbles (or maybe bites?) to create a comprehensive overview. It’s best to keep everything on paper or in a clean Excel spreadsheet. Feel free to use colors, shapes, fonts, and patterns you like that put you in your happy place. That’s going to be especially important if your inner voice is shouting at you that finances are dry, boring, and just not for you…

Then come up with a concrete to-do list based on your goals. It could look like this, for example:

  • Write down all monthly expenses – how much money do you spend on rent and transit? For insurance and loan payments? How much money do you need for groceries, going out to eat, your cell phone, Netflix, and the salon?
  • Check your bank statement and write out an overview of how much money is available for which goals.
  • Open a new bank account (or two or three) with your bank to dedicate to specific (sub-)goals, and pay a certain amount into them every month starting now. A great tool for this is what’s known as an emergency fund. It’s a pool of money (or even a bank account) where you set aside 3 to 6 months’ salary (based on your needs and personal gut feeling) for…well, emergencies. Tough times. Unforeseen events. Out-of-the-blue trips. Unemployment.
  • Start out teeny tiny. At first glance, it might seem like it makes sense to start with the largest debts and plug the deepest financial hole first. It’s a lot more sustainable for your motivation, though, to tackle the small stuff first – paying off the smaller credit card bills or saving for your next vacation instead of for that big waterfront property. Naturally, you’ll reach smaller goals more quickly and easily, leaving you with positive feelings. That’s going to motivate you to take on the bigger challenges.

Along the way, it can work wonders to focus on the individual events (that is, the small steps bringing you closer to the goal) rather than the grand finale at the end. Our brains love to feel a sense of achievement, no matter how small it is. When we start to think too abstractly or too often about reaching the big picture goal, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated, and then our rumblings and grumblings make us put off taking concrete action. It’s best to divide up your goals into itty-bitty, digestible (and realistic) sub-goals and precise actions.

Stay motivated! You’re definitely going to experience setbacks and failures along the way. That’s why it’s important to stay motivated. One way to do this is to consider using a reward system. Tie each partial goal to a nice little tangible gift. Set aside part of your monthly budget to enjoy something – do something good for the soul. That way you can enjoy the path to your financial goals, go about it deliberately, and do something good for yourself. It makes it a thousand times healthier for you, your body, and those around you than when you’re totally burnt out and exhausted, lost in thoughts of deficit and scarcity.

Get informed! Ask questions! Seek out answers…read books on finance, listen to podcasts, and attend webinars. Let yourself get inspired and feel supported – ’cause there are amazing opportunities and resources out there that can help. Talk to like-minded people – seek out community! Talk to other women who have specific financial questions and who are looking to reach financial goals. Share your plans, wishes, and experiences with each other. Together we are strong!

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