By KristiLyn Wilkinson, M.S.
USU Extension Empowering Financial Wellness Program Manager
I don’t know about you, but I am not sad about leaving 2020 in the past. If anything, I am more committed to doing what is in my control to make 2021 a better year for me and my family. You might not be a fan of setting new year resolutions. Maybe setting goals in January seems like an arbitrary unimportant date to you and you set goals whenever you feel like it. Maybe you don’t believe in setting goals because they feel restrictive. Maybe you have had your new year resolutions mapped out since last October. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, I would highly suggest that you set some financial goals…at some point in your life…preferably right now. Why? I will tell you, but first, grab a blanket (it’s freezing here in Utah) and settle in. We are about to get touchy-feely.
In the financial world we like to say that a budget is telling your money where you want it to go instead of wondering where it went. Well, in order to tell your money where you want it to go, YOU have to have some idea of what your end goal is.
Did you know that, in order to become financially successful, the first step isn’t “deprive yourself of all things you enjoy and budget yourself to death until you want to kill said budget?” I know, you all thought I was going to tell you that the rest of your life was destined to end like that. Nope, the first step to being financially successful in life is to sit down and think about what you value (if you have a partner, doing this with them is very important to your joint financial success). What do you value? What is important to you? Why are those things important to you? Values are relatively permanent beliefs that determine what is important to you. Once you know what you VALUE, then you should create some financial goals that reflect using your money in ways that well, add value! A lot of the stress surrounding money is that people spend it on things that don’t actually align with what they value. I know, we are getting deep here. Stick with me!
Once you have identified your values and set some goals, you can create a financial plan for how to create those goals! Saving a certain amount of money for a vacation, paying down debt so you can be debt-free, saving for a down payment on a house, etc. The financial plan you create is the road map or structure for your goals! If you are following your financial plan (that was created by YOU based on what is important to YOU) then you will eventually reach financial success. And isn’t being “financially successful” the whole point of what we are all trying to do with our money?
What does financial success look like? Well, since we all value different things, financial success is going to look different to different people. For some, financial success means finally purchasing their dream home. For some it means paying off their home. For some it means having money to travel, for some it means being able to retire early and just go fishing every day. You want to know the recipe for a miserable life? Look at how your neighbor is spending their money and just do that with your money. Personal finance is personal. The phrase “you do you” is petty important when it comes to money. However, the only way to “do you” is to figure out what you really want… and to quit worrying about everyone else.
So, let’s start this year off right! Grab your significant other and set some financial goals together. You won’t regret it!
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