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Jan 9 2012 12:00AM

Question


How can I set a financial goal that is achievable? I find it very difficult to implement my goal at the end of the year. Also, what can I do to improve my saving and spending? I usually spend money on things that I do not plan for.

Answer

“It appears you devised a financial plan and then had difficulty following through which may indeed imply your goals are too aggressive,” said FPA member Christine Beschen, CFP®, CRPC®, CLU. “A suggestion is to begin saving a small amount, allowing time to adjust to the fewer discretionary dollars. If and when you see it is not that difficult, you may then increase the savings incrementally, again to allow for adjusting your spending habits.
 
“In conjunction with this, I suggest having an emergency fund to pay for those unexpected expenses that always occur. This helps alleviate any interruption in your saving plans.
 
“In the beginning of any plan, it is extremely difficult to visualize the effect of the savings plan. But given time you will truly appreciate and congratulate yourself for making the effort as it is very rewarding. Your heart appears to be in the right place, now take the next step and try to find ways to curtail your spending. Stay away from the stores you frequent or the websites that are tempting. It is hard, but you can do it.”

In addition, FPA member Scott Noyes, CFA, CFP®, suggests following these eight tips.

  1. Be realistic. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day and change takes time. Rather than becoming discouraged by taking on too much at once, take one goal and focus on it before moving on to the next.
  2. Set long-range, intermediate, and short-term goals. See tip #1.
  3. Write your goals down. Otherwise it's just a dream.
  4. Put your goals where you'll see them regularly. Tape them to the computer monitor, attach them to the refrigerator door, or tuck them onto your mirror.
  5. If a goal requires changing your lifestyle, admit it. If you shoot for temporary change, that's all you're likely to achieve.  
  6. Establish a support system of family and friends.  
  7. Stay flexible. If one method doesn't work after an honest attempt, try a different way. If your short-term goals turn out to be medium-term, accept the fact and keep working on them.
  8. When you achieve your goal, give yourself a reward. Your choice!

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