Setting a smart goal for your financial future is one thing; sticking to it is another. An unexpected expense may derail plans, or the business of day-to-day life may make us neglect to oversee our finances.
Finance pros know the best strategies for staying on track to reach a financial goal. Below, 15 members of Forbes Finance Council share sage advice for those who want to keep on the right course or get back on track toward achieving financial goals.
1. Seek Professional Assistance
We all start with great goals in mind; however, the ongoing execution of the plan that gets you to the goal is difficult. Having accountability meetings with your financial professional gives you a better chance of staying on target and meeting new life challenges. Make sure you have a strong relationship with your financial professional and that person can hold you accountable to your goals. – Mike McGlothlin, Ash Brokerage
To make the goal more tangible, set up a specific account for the goal and label it. For example, setting up a savings account that is labeled “Our First Home” or “Retiring by 60,” with automatic direct deposits, will act as a constant motivator. The automatic direct deposit will also make it less painful to save toward the goal as you won’t see the money in your checking account for long. – Andres Garcia-Amaya, Zoe Financial
3. Know Your ‘Why’
Setting a financial goal is always a great strategy. Like anything else in life, it’s important to be clear on the “why.” This is your reason behind the goal. This is also important when leading people. When we can get them to visualize the reason behind their financial goals, all of a sudden their motivation comes from within. Intrinsic motivation creates sustainable results. – Dr. Betty Uribe, Effectus Enterprises, LLC dba Dr. Betty Uribe
4. Write It Down
We start every financial planning relationship with a written plan. It’s important to understand the power a written document can hold. It helps keep you focused on the goal, it helps provide you with benchmarks and check-in points along the way, and it lays out how to get there in a logical and progressive order. We see that most clients fail to hit their goals when they don’t write them down. – Matthew Cuplin, Midwest Financial Group
5. Set Monthly Goals And Monitor Them Daily
Every goal worth attaining is worth micromanaging. When setting a goal, write down at least five steps required to reach your target and do them every day. Every day that you complete your five steps, put an “X” on a calendar as a reminder that you follow your financial dreams. Before you know it your goals will be hit and your dreams will have grown bigger than you could have ever imagined! – Anthony Allen Anderson, GSI Exchange
6. Follow The SMART Framework
Following the SMART goal framework (setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) is critical to reaching personal finance goals. After all, unattainable goals can become demotivating when little progress is made, and setting unspecific, qualitative goals like “buying a new car” can result in a moving target that makes compromise easy and realization difficult. – Ryan Rosett, Credibly
7. Use A Vision Board
To always stick to their financial goals, whether business or personal, people should first set up a vision board that maps out their objectives. The financial goals are only a means, not an end. An end is a new house, a new car, a family vacation and, eventually, more time for self-care. A lot of people skip this step; thus, it is hard for them to stick to their financial goals. – Wendy Nguyen, TNC CPAs
8. Set Up Monthly Electronic Transfers
The easy part of setting a smart goal is creating a financial plan and savings strategy. The tough part is actually doing it. Here is a tip: Create a monthly electronic transfer from your paycheck or checking account to your investment or goal account. If you can’t fully fund the goal, then start with whatever you can. The most important thing is to start. – Greg Kniss, KROST CPAs & Consultants
9. Save The Raise
Every time you get a raise at work, save some or all of that increase. This will allow you to continue to live the same lifestyle, all while saving more money for your retirement. Most people waste the money they get from raises on more cups of coffee, going out to eat and little things that never add up. Save it and you will be a lot happier in the future. – Michael Foguth, Foguth Financial Group
10. Reward Yourself
Include a reward goal as part of your financial plan. This will allow you to treat yourself once you accomplish your goals. It can be a material reward or experiential. This will help you look forward to sticking to your financial goals while enjoying the ride! – Amir Eyal, Mylestone Plans LLC
11. Create Passive Income
Do what the rich do—stop looking at your earnings as just spending cash and start building yielding assets by investing. There are many ways to do so: real estate, stocks, gold and cryptocurrencies. Yes, there are risks, but in the long term—even if you start small—it will pay off. – Nuke Goldstein, Celsius Network
12. Schedule Quarterly Reviews
There is a saying that “the cobbler’s children go barefoot.” While we bring our professional, analytical, diligent selves to work, we may not employ the same discipline to our own personal finances. Schedule a quarterly meeting for yourself to review your own finances, to update goals and to evaluate your performance versus your plan. Make your personal financial health a priority! – James Dowd, North Capital
13. Watch Out For Lifestyle Creep
Practicing good financial discipline when coming across unexpected funds is a valuable lesson. If you receive a raise or a bonus, try to save half of it. If you weren’t expecting a pay increase, your lifestyle should already be supported at the previous level of income. Before inflating your lifestyle, ask yourself if that money should be saved instead. – Sonya Thadhani Mughal, Bailard, Inc.
14. Keep Emotion Out Of The Equation
If you monitor your bank account and investments every second of every day you are going to let emotion play a role and get caught up. The key to sticking to any long-term financial goal is to keep emotion out of the equation and know that you are doing things that are going to set you up for long-term success. Take each day at a time and know that it is a marathon and not a sprint. – Jonathan Moisan, Advertise Purple
15. Reverse-Engineer Your End Goal
My personal financial goals have only happened when I was actively pursuing them. So before I plan, I produce. I focus on getting into a state of earning, saving and investing so I have momentum and confidence. Then I set my specific, measurable, action-based, relevant and time-bound financial goal. Once I’ve done this I can literally work backward all the way to today and set checkpoints. – Jerry Fetta, Wealth DynamX
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