Let's face it, reaching financial goals requires discipline — the discipline that many of us don't have. We can't pass by the coffee shop in the morning without stopping for a large cup of Joe and a muffin, we're tempted when we see that big-screen television on sale, and we're convinced that new iPhone® has our name on it. The big problem here is these are exactly the types of things that get in the way of us achieving our savings goals for the things that really matter to us long-term such as buying a home, getting a new car, and even taking a vacation with our families.
Setting Goals: It Matters in the Long-Run
Whether you're fresh out of college, newly married, or approaching retirement, you have a financial goal in mind. While each person's goals are different, setting goals should be done by everyone. Make sure your goals fit with the lifestyle you're hoping to achieve.
For example, if you're currently driving a used car, you may want to start saving for a down payment on a new car. If you’re renting, you may wish to start saving to buy a home. Or perhaps you’re interested in saving for a dream vacation with your children. Regardless of the goal you set, be realistic. You're not likely to be able to save for a home down payment as quickly as you would be able to save for the down payment on a car, for example.
Be sure to write your goal down and put it somewhere you will see it often. To make a big impact, write your goal on a sticky note and wrap it around your credit card in your wallet. Every time you go to pay for something, you will see your goal…causing you to stop and think before you swipe.
Put Your Credit & Debit Cards Away
If you're going to save money, you'll need to have a bit of discipline. One of the challenges of having credit and debit cards handy is it's a lot easier to swipe a card without thinking about what we're spending money on or where that money is coming from.
Consider putting cash in your pocket at the beginning of the week or the month; when the designated amount of cash is gone, commit to not taking any money out of your savings. While this may seem like a drastic step, keep in mind, sometimes the urge to splurge can be curbed by keeping a limited amount of cash in your pocket. When you actually see your money disappearing with each purchase, you’re more likely to stop and think twice about every little purchase.
Moving Forward After Setbacks
We've all done it — we give in and splurge on a new gadget, buy something that "we have to have" or simply overspend our budgeted "fun money". Instead of beating yourself up, get back on track and move forward. Keep your eye on your long-term savings goals and simply move on from this setback. It's liable to happen; it's more important you learn from a lapse in judgment than it is to beat yourself up over that shortfall.
There are no shortcuts to reaching your financial goals. You will need to make the decision to avoid purchases that do not help you attain those goals. It's important you set goals that are realistic and avoid spending habits that can sideline those goals.
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Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.