2016 is about to begin and it’s time to at least consider setting some financial goals. Not so you can feel guilty about how much you spent in 2015 or so you can feel depressed about your financial situation, but so you can get ahead of the game and set yourself and your family up for success. I know, looking at bank statements, thinking about retirement or checking if your insurance payments are on point doesn’t usually have the same excitement as creating other new years resolutions can, but it’s absolutely worth a few of your final hours of 2015.
Do not make small goals because they do not have the magic to stir men’s souls. – Spencer W. Kimball
I’m not going to lecture you on why you need financial goals. You know why – s0 you can live the life you choose. I’m also not going to tell you what your financial goals should be. I don’t know what your family makes or what it needs. I do want to give you some questions to consider when setting your goals, in case you’re looking for inspiration.
What do you want to be able to achieve in 2016? Maybe it’s buy a house, pay off your student loans, go on a vacation. Whatever it is, write it down. It’s ok if it’s a little big for where you’re at right now. It’s even ok if it doesn’t happen in 2016. But it’s not ok to have a bunch of goals and not even make the first move towards owning them – writing it down!
What debt do you currently have? There is a huge benefit to knowing exactly what you currently owe. Make a big list. There are tons of different systems and schools of thought on how to pay off debt, you’re probably familiar with some. I’m not saying you need to commit to a whole new payoff system, but know what you owe. Especially if you have credit card debt – nothing stops you reaching for the plastic for something you don’t need quite like knowing exactly how much you need to pay back.
Remember this: debt is a form of bondage. It is a financial termite. When we make purchases on credit, they give us only an illusion of prosperity. We think we own things, but the reality is, our things own us. – Joseph B. Wirthlin
What are your current money hang ups? Target dollar section? Buying stuff in cash and not recording where your money went? Late payments on loans? Maybe it’s even something as small as always getting little snacks when you’re out running errands. Whatever it is, we all have at least one thing we’re a bit quirky about with money. I’m not saying you need to change all of your habits, but at least know what they are.
As a bonus, figuring out what your hangups are can help you identify what you can cut out when you’re saving for something bigger and better. I love fountain drinks. If I get a $1.50 pop just twice a week, that’s $156 over an entire year. I’m not going to be unrealistic and say I’ll never get a pop again, but I can reasonably say I can cut that habit down to fund an upcoming trip my husband and I are taking. You can try the same calculations with your guilty pleasures, or hangups. It’s helpful to put a big picture dollar amount on items that seem harmless.
What is already working for you? It’s not all about making big changes. If you’re killing it at making extra payments on your car, or loving using auto payments to make sure all of your bills are paid on time, or your family likes to pay for everything with a credit card so you can use the points for flights – perfect! No matter where you’re at, something is probably going right for you. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every single year, figure out what’s working first so you don’t waste time and potentially make negative changes.
Lastly, if you’re completely at a loss reading this and you get that nauseous sort of feeling just thinking about money (don’t worry, we’ve all been there) – I do have a starter goal for you. Stop being afraid of money. Don’t be worried when you check your bank account. Don’t let a mistake, like an overdraft, set you on a tailspin into self doubt and dread every time you need to buy something. Don’t feel stupid reading books, asking questions, or talking about money. Everyone has to start somewhere. You’re brave for taking the first step!
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope. – 2 Nephi 31:20
Whatever goals you choose to set, I know that when you are living within your means and paying a full tithe you will be immeasurably blessed by Heavenly Father. While blessings may not always come the way we want them to, they do come. I know mortality brings so many challenges and I know money is often one of them, but it doesn’t have to be. I hope you and your family will prayerfully consider setting some financial goals so you can find happiness instead of anxiety when thinking about your future and your finances.