Setting personal financial goals is one of the most important parts of planning your future. When you set realistic financial goals, you will be setting yourself up for success in the years to come. Understanding how to set financial goals can be challenging, but there are many important considerations that can help you set them for maximum success.
William Huyler, an experienced financial advisor, explains the steps that you should take in order to put yourself on a clear path toward your future.
Make Sure You and Your Spouse Are On the Same Page
One of the most important considerations when it comes to setting solid financial goals is making sure that your spouse or partner is on the same page. If you and your partner are working at cross purposes, you will not be able to see your future clearly.
Sit down with your spouse and determine your short-, medium-, and long-term goals. Some common financial goals that many people share are taking a family vacation, saving for college, buying a new home, or saving for retirement. Decide on the priority of your goals and how much money you should set out for each of them.
It is a good idea to make a calendar with your goals and to see exactly how much time you have to save for each one. You may find that the amount of money you need to save for your goals is overwhelming. If you can’t meet your goals in real life, you can readjust them later down the road.
Make a Budget and Stick To It
When people are just starting down the road toward a savings plan, they often don’t take their daily expenses into consideration. It is vital to come up with a monthly budget and to know exactly how much money is coming in and going out. If you have significant savings goals, you may find that you have budget areas you can trim in order to meet them.
For example, dining out is one of the highest expenses that most couples could easily forgo. Cable television is another item that most people would not really miss if it were cut. Cutting back on non-essential purchases for hobbies can also help. When you save money toward your personal financial goals, you will be experiencing long-term rewards, so it is worthwhile to experience some budget restriction in the short term.
Spend Windfalls Wisely
Often, people are fortunate enough to receive bonuses, tax refunds, inheritances, and other windfalls. These windfalls should be directed toward savings and paying off debt rather than being spent immediately unless there is a serious short-term need.
Be Careful with Credit Cards
Many people fall into the trap of putting monthly expenses on their credit cards. Credit cards should be used only for expenses that can be paid off each month. If you are constantly paying off just the minimum on your credit cards and maxing them out, you will be significantly damaging your financial future. This can cause your credit scores to dip, meaning that you will be ineligible for good interest rates on homes or cars.
It is smart to have credit cards and use them wisely as part of your overall credit history but don’t let yourself treat them like a slush fund.
Deciding What to Pay Off First
When you are constructing your financial plan, it is a good idea to get an overall picture of your debt and what you should work on paying off first. There are two schools of thought regarding paying off debt and creating a savings plan. Many experts believe that you should prioritize your monthly budget toward paying off high-interest debt before building a savings cushion. Other experts believe that building a savings cushion should be a priority before the high-interest debt is paid off. You can rely on your personal financial advisor to steer you in the right direction when it comes to this important decision.
Another key aspect of planning for your personal financial goals is deciding which types of investments you should make. William Huyler believes that everyone should be saving for retirement, no matter what phase of their careers they are currently in. If you have a 401(k) plan, it is a good idea to max out your contributions each year especially if your employer will match this money. If you start investing at a young age, you will be impressed at how much money you will have by the time of retirement.
401(k)s should be constructed with a mix of high-yield and stable investments. You can follow the same guidelines when choosing mutual funds and individual stock investments. It is also a good idea to include alternative forms of investment in your portfolio like real estate. If investing in a building is too difficult, there are investment vehicles called Real Estate Investment Trusts or REITs that can be helpful in allowing you to hold real estate in a more liquid investment.
Keeping a Clear Eye Forward
Creating personal financial goals may be overwhelming, but when working with a financial advisor like William Huyler, it is much easier to formulate a plan for success. Understanding what steps you need to take in order to construct a solid financial plan requires some research. No matter what steps you choose to take, it is important to determine your family’s needs and how they will change in the future.