Research shows that financial instability is one of the leading concerns among Americans.
In fact, data from a financial literacy survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and NerdWallet, showed that nearly 70 percent of all Americans are worried about their personal finances.
Regardless of your age or where you are in your life, learn how to set smart financial goals. It’s a great way to help reduce your anxiety and avoid stress.
Have you ever set financial goals before? You may wonder where to start. Check out this list of goals to see which ideas might be right for you now or in the future:
Plan for the Worst
There are so many reasons to start building an emergency fund. Yet, many people still don’t have one.
Bankrate.com found that just 29 percent of people surveyed did not have an emergency plan. An additional 21 percent had only enough saved to get them through three months or less.
This needs to be one of your financial goals. If you or your spouse were to lose a job, if you were to get injured or fall ill, or if any number of other emergencies were to occur. You could be left scrambling to find money for food, rent, and other essentials.
Creating this kind of emergency fund takes time and dedication. To make it more attainable, try breaking up your financial goals into smaller segments.
Committing to putting just thirty, fifty, or a hundred dollars a week into savings can add up quickly.
Get Ready for Major Milestones Before They Happen
Major milestones like getting married, having children, or buying a house are expensive.
Waiting until they are about to happen to save will cut into your income. It can affect your ability to put away money for other financial goals, like retirement. If you think that any of those, or any other large expenses are in your future, start saving for them right away.
Prepare for the Future
Retirement seems like a far off future when you’re in your twenties, thirties, or even your forties. But building a retirement fund is a financial goal that takes many years,
The average retirement lasts eighteen years (though it’s a good idea to plan for up to thirty years). If you think you’ll need $5,000 a month over those thirty years, you’ll need over a million dollars total to get you through.
Think about the income that you are making now and how long it will take you to save up a million dollars. That’ll give you a better idea of when you need to get started on saving for that fund (or how many years of savings you need to make up for already).
Stop Worrying About What Other People Are Doing
With people constantly posting photos of their fancy vacations or expensive clothing on social media, it can be easy to start comparing your finances to that of others.
But doing so isn’t going to help you achieve your financial goals; in fact, it’s likely to leave you feeling discouraged and unmotivated. Remember that your goals are for you and only you, and be proud of the progress that you’re making.
Make an Effort to Pay Off Debts
Student loans, credit cards, and other debts are a drain on your income and can hurt your credit if you aren’t careful to pay on time.
Many, especially credit card debts, also have high-interest rates, which will leave you paying even more over time. That extra money could be put to much better uses, like saving for an emergency or retirement fund.
To avoid paying extra on your debts or risking not paying them in time and damaging your credit, make an effort to pay off your debts more quickly.
Build Healthy Spending Habits
A 2013 poll by Gallop found that two-thirds of Americans do not have a set budget in place.
Not having a budget in place can lead to spur-of-the-moment purchases that eat up your paycheck, leaving you unable to keep working towards your financial goals.
But if you’ve never given much thought to your spending, starting a budget can be tough.
To help make it easier, start by keeping a log of what you spend. Then, use that log to determine what you could be cutting out and how you could use that money for more productive purposes, like building a savings account.
Work to Improve Your Credit Score
If you want to get a loan, buy a house, or seek help from a bank in order to reach any of your other financial goals, you’ll need a good credit score.
Use a free online service to check your score. If it could use improvement, there are a number of things that you can do, like setting up payment reminders to ensure that you don’t miss a credit card payment.
Diversify Your Income
If all of your income is coming from a single source, you may be at risk of falling onto hard times if that income disappears or gets cut.
A great way to keep this from happening is by diversifying your income.
Depending upon your line of work and the skills you possess, you may be able to take on freelance work, sell products or services on the side, or invest in the stock market in order to bring in additional money alongside your normal income.
Get the Right Insurance
If you’re like the millions of other Americans who don’t really understand what kind of insurance you need, you may be overspending each month.
To make sure that you aren’t paying for more than you need, it’s important to learn about the different kinds of coverage. Determine what coverage you need and what you don’t.
Then, shop around and compare insurance quotes to ensure that you’re getting the best deal.
Decide Which of These Financial Goals Is Most Important to You
While all of the goals on this list are important, it isn’t possible to tackle all of them at once.
Instead, you need to consider what is most important to you, and which financial goals are more relevant to where you are in your life at this time.
Prioritize the goals on this list, and start with the ones that are the most important or useful for you at this time. For instance, if you’re in your twenties, starting an emergency fund is more important that starting your retirement plan. But if you’re in your forties, it may be better for you to start a retirement fund instead.
Where do you stand with your financial goals? If you have questions about these, or about the best life insurance choice for you and your family, get in touch. We’re here for you.
Life Insurance and More: The 10 Financial Goals Everyone Needs to Have by Jeffrey Manola