Everyone has different goals. What they are depends on you. What are your financial goals?
To set goals, you need to step back, look at the big picture, assess where you are, evaluate where you want to be, determine when you want to arrive there, and give some thought to how you will get there. Address these three key questions to set your goals before progressing towards them.
What do you want to achieve?
When do you want to achieve it?
What is the amount of risk you are comfortable with?
Think of your financial goal setting as a journey. It’s best to set up and follow a personal map. You can break your map down into three main components.
1. Work with a good financial planner
You have all the key components to reach your destination successfully, but you may need a navigator to help you along the way. This is where a financial planner comes in. They cannot guarantee that your journey will succeed, but they can help point you in the right direction. A good financial planner will ensure that there are no shortcuts on your journey and will advise you that there will be thunderstorms and sunny days along the way. They can’t completely protect you from the storms, but they should be able to help you get through the worst of it relatively unscathed once everything settles down. You might even be able to benefit from a storm now and then.
2. Create a budget
Your financial plan is the ship, and it is what will get you to where you want to be. The Captain, or in this case, your financial planner, will steer the ship. While these elements are important, it means nothing without the engine. Without an engine, or let’s say, a budget, your ship is going no place fast. A budget is the powerhouse behind your financial plan and puts you in control. Nothing works without it.
3. Track your expenses
A budget says, ‘this is how I Wish I were spending my money.’ Tracking says, ‘this is how I am Really spending my money.’ It's best to have the reality of your spending habits speak directly to the desires of your budget and have them work together. If you don't know where your money is really going, then all you have is a wish list, and wishing won't move your ship (or pay the bills).
So, how do you succeed down the path of financial goal setting?
Have a plan. Figure out where you are, where you want to be, and how you will get there. Get a good financial planner to help you figure out a path to get you there (you may need to go through a few before you find one that is right for you). Make sure your plan is powered with a budget that includes expense tracking, and you will be well on your way to success.
Tim St Vincent CEPF, C.I.M. (Hons.)
Financial Educator, Credit Counselling Society
If you need support getting a handle on your finances, speak with your EAP provider today. We offer consultations with CPAs and Certified Credit Counsellors to assist with budgeting, setting financial goals, managing changes in personal situations, and debt management.