As the year-end fast approaches, it’s important to reflect back on what this past year has brought to your financial life. By having an open and honest conversation with yourself on what worked, what didn’t, and what you want to accomplish in 2018, you’ll quickly realize that setting financial goals for the new year isn’t as dreadful as it seems.
The tricky thing about New Year’s resolutions — whether they’re related to your personal finances or not — is resisting the urge to set up big, extravagant goals that seem reasonable at the time of planning them out. While this is not to say you should feel discouraged from having a big financial goal, the danger lies in having a list of big goals that only make you feel worse at the year-end if you aren’t able to accomplish them.
To start the new year off on a high note, here are some tips to create realistic financial goals for 2018:
1. Analyze the past 3-6 months of your financial habits
When it comes to setting up goals for yourself, it’s important to have a good understanding of your personal spending habits. Start by analyzing the last 3-6 months of your spending activity (which you can easily do with Koho Insights). What are the top categories where you spent the most? Were there any peak times (days of the week, or even the time of day) that you spent more or less?
By understanding your daily spending activity, you’ll be able to set up goals that you can work up to — rather forcing yourself to make drastic changes to your day-to-day life.
2. Dedicate each year to one theme rather than a checklist
While crafting up a list of goals you’d like to achieve within a year can feel like an accomplishment in itself, the reality is that we will all face distractions in our lives that may throw us off track. Instead, having an overarching theme that you can dedicate the year to opens more opportunities for success in reaching your specific goals.
Perhaps a theme could be “to learn”—whether that’s to learn more about yourself on what purchases create the most value to you, or learning about industry trends to start investing—the vaguer the theme is, the more flexibility you’ll give yourself to explore what will work for you.
3. Start early, start small
There’s no golden rule that says if you start your goals on January 1st, you’ll be more inclined to keep up with your goals throughout the year. Start as early as setting up small goals for the last few weeks of December before jumping into bigger goals that kick in at the start of the new year. Better yet, break your goals up into quarters so you can dedicate a full 3 months to achieving smaller goals.
Taking our previous example of the goal “to learn”, your goal for Q1 may be to attend at least one personal finance event. Even if the event is a simple Meetup or a bigger conference, your goal is to find opportunities that will contribute to your goal “to learn”. From there, you can set up for the next quarter, as you see yourself accomplish mini goals every 3 months. If you need a helping hand, be sure to check out our Goals feature to automate your goals for you.
4. Keep yourself accountable (Tell a friend, set up calendar reminders, write it down, etc.)
With any goal, you’ll want to keep yourself accountable by finding tools and resources that work for you. Whether this be through a buddy-system with someone you trust, setting up reminders on your daily calendar, or even writing it down on sticky notes on your front door, find ways that will keep you inspired.
If you set up quarterly goals, prepare for a quarterly meeting with yourself just like you would do for any other important meeting. At the year-end, have an annual general meeting for yourself and schedule it in your calendar—just because this is a meeting with yourself doesn’t mean you should treat it any less than an important board meeting.
5. Celebrate the wins (big or small)
After every goal you achieve, be sure to celebrate your wins—big or small. Celebrate with a treat for yourself, or invite a friend to celebrate with you. By celebrating those wins, you’ll not only feel happier but feel more inclined to keep going. To keep things fun, you can even put together a jar with ideas on how you can celebrate.
With every goal comes with a sweet reward, but you owe it to yourself to make those goals work for you. We hope this inspired you to set up realistic, achievable goals for 2018 and that with a little bit of planning, you’ll be able to reach your goals in no time.