Think of a dream you have to travel, own a vacation home, or a hot new sports car. Your dream may not include any of these, yet it is a sure thing that somewhere along the way, you dream will require money. All the dreams and goals you have for yourself and your family should begin with a financial plan. Setting financial goals does more than pay for those daily necessities such as food, clothing and housing, a good financial plan sets goals designed to provide the money needed to plan the future you dream of for yourself and your loved ones.
If you ever had a piggy bank as a child and saved your money for a special toy or treat, you already have experienced the reward of financial planning. A good financial plan starts with goals or a vision of what you would like to own or be able to explore at some point in the future. When it comes to financial planning, it is never too early to start. Simple steps can make a huge difference in the money available to reach the goals and dreams you have for yourself and your future. Begin by asking yourself what you want to accomplish with the money you save. Make a list. Be specific in describing what you want to use your money for in the future. How much does it cost? How soon do you want or need to reach this goal? Now take a deep breath and acknowledge that you need a budget to reach any goal concerning finances.
A budget is not a yoke around your neck. A budget is a plan of action to achieve the financial freedom to meet your goals now and in the future. When you set up a budget, keep it simple and easy to track. Forget those percentages the experts say you should be setting aside. The truth is a penny saved is a penny closer to meeting your financial goal. The more pennies saved the quicker you will reach your goal, but you have to get started. Decide how long it will take to reach each of your financial goals and then find ways to get those pennies saved!
You have more money than you think. Everyone has money that seems to disappear without anything to show for it. You can control your spending and budget your savings towards meeting solid financial goals by tracking this disappearing money. Carry a small pen and notepad with you and write down everything you spend for at least a month. Take all the entries and divide them according to necessities such a house payments, travel expenses, or utilities and then list all the little daily extras such as change put in the office vending machines, that quick stop at the fast food window, newspapers or magazines that go unread. You may be surprised at how much pocket change you actually spend that could be used to save toward a larger goal. Tracking your spending and cutting back in nonessential areas can help you reach financial goals sooner.
Cutting back does not need to mean going without. Shop smarter by comparing costs, purchasing items only when they are on sale or recycling and you can save money for your future goals. Money saved can then be used to finance your future dreams. You can also add to saving by designating any bonus money towards future goals. An unexpected bonus or raise could be budgeted to savings without your current spending plan being affected. Tax refunds or income from a second or part-time job is other options for adding significant cash to financing your future goals. Other ways to save money that can then be placed in savings includes using coupons, shopping discount warehouses, or searching online for special deals at restaurants, movies, and entertainment outlets. Take advantage of member discounts, senior or student discounts whenever possible. As you pay off a debt, consider adding the amount that once went towards that debt reduction to your savings. Whatever your financial plan looks like today, remember that you can and probably should evaluate your progress and make adjustments as needed. Your financial future is in your control. Get started today using these resources listed below.
- Tips to Prepare for Retirement Needs
- Planning Your Financial Future (PDF)
- Free Financial Advice
- Money Matters
- Tips When Working with Financial Planners
- Saving Money and Time
- 101 Ways to Save Money (PDF)
- Feed the Pig (Savings site)
- Managing Your Money (PDF)
- Financial Values, Attitudes and Goals (PDF)