These crucial money goals will set you off on the right track with your personal finances… for good once and for all.
13 Money Goals To Improve Your Finances For Good
Here’s the reality. A lot of want to improve our finances but many of us don’t know how to do it or don’t even know where to start.
Believe it or not:
Improving finances starts with having money goals and working through steps to reach those goals. For example, if your goal is to be a doctor, you need to get your college degree, go to medical school, get the training you need, pass the medical board exam, among others.
If you’re one of those people with money goals, kudos to you. You’re one step ahead of many people. If you don’t have money goals yet, don’t worry there is still time to make those.
That time is now.
A lot of us have money goals in mind. Some would like to increase their wealth (i.e., become rich fast) in a few years, some would want to buy a car or a house, and some want something else.
This post will exactly detail some of the money goals you could get inspiration from. Better yet, you can literally use these goals and call them your own.
If you are onboard and ready to make changes to your finances, read on!
1. Create a Budget. Period.
One of the best things you need to do to start improving your finances is to create a budget. Yes, creating a budget is one of your money goals.
Here me out on this.
No matter how small or big your money goal is, without a budget, that goal may not be achievable or may be hard to achieve, to say the least.
Because you don’t have a way to track your finances or income and expenses.
When you jot down and detail your finance, you know exactly where your money is going.
Does the benefit of a having a budget stop there? No, not at all.
When you consistently budget and track what’s coming in and going out, you’ll eventually identify which expenses are excessive, which ones you may need cut or adjust, and which ones you don’t need anymore.
When you identify these, you can make adjustments and put the savings towards your bank account, investments, or some other important expenses.
But there’s more:
When you have a budget, you will be able to identify if your expenses exceed your income.
If or when you’ve identified that your expenses exceed your income and need money urgently to fill the gap and/or save some more, you could make a tweak on your expenses or get a side hustle or two to make extra cash and improve your income.
This is where Personal Capital comes into play. It’s a free budgeting app that allows you to monitor your cash flow and income in real-time.
2. Always Check Your Credit Score
If you want to improve your finances, one of the money goals is to always check your credit score.
No kidding you credit score or credit can make or break your finances. A lower credit score may mean you won’t be qualified for better interest rates on loans and other forms of debts. Also a lower score may mean that a lot of companies won’t extend credit to you.
Believe it or not, some employers also require that you allow them to check your credit score especially if you are applying for a job that involves managing finances.
Your credit score provides creditors a way to see your financial health and capability. A high credit score means that you manage your credit well. A low score could be a red flag and your potential creditors may or will question your dependability.
Checking your credit score carries additional benefits.
By checking your credit report, you can assess if all your credit information is correct and accurate. A mistake in your credit can negatively impact your score.
Worse, you could be liable to pay any loan, credit card, and other debts that were opened in your name even when those aren’t really yours to begin with.
Check your credit score with Credit Sesame to find out what your score is in an instant.
See Related: Credit Tips to Live By
3. Make Small Increases to Your Retirement Savings
Retirement is for old people or for those nearing retirement. That’s what other people say especially the millennials.
I agree that it is easy to put aside thoughts of retirement, especially if you are of a younger age, but retirement will be an issue for most people someday.
A lot of people especially the senior ones don’t have enough money saved for retirement. Ask them what they should have done in the past, and a lot of them would tell you that they should have saved more money for retirement when they were young.
If you don’t believe me, go to different establishments or companies like Walmart stores, Target, among others, and you’ll see a lot of senior citizens.
Of course, you can’t easily judge them and say that they didn’t save enough money for retirement. Just so you know, some of them just like to work and it doesn’t matter if they make thousands per month or a few dollars per hour.
Start saving for retirement and make small increases to your retirement savings on a periodic basis so that your future funds increase as a result of putting a little more into the fund each year.
These small increases will add up and won’t break the bank while pursuing these money goals.
See Related: How I Saved Significant Fees in my Retirement Accounts
4. Take Advantage of Employer-Provided Benefits
If your employer provides benefits such as 401(k) options and health savings accounts, take advantage of these items.
A lot of companies will match (up to a certain amount of percentage of your salary) whatever it is you put in your 401(k). That’s free money there that you don’t have to pay back.
You’ll see the savings come in on a continual basis from doing so.
When an employer provides employees with benefits it’s imperative to use these benefits whenever necessary and able to do so.
As part of your employment compensation, you want to accept all of the benefits which are offered to you.
Believe it or not:
One in five Americans makes mistakes when it comes to their 401(k). Don’t be like them.
5. Put Discretionary Spending on Hold for a Certain Time Period
It’s also a wise idea to put your discretionary spending on hold for a bit of time.
Take some time off from dining out, going out for drinks, or seeing the latest movies.
Have your date night at home with your special someone and save some cash while still enjoying a homemade dinner, drinks from your refrigerator, and a Netflix movie.
By doing so, if only for a little while, you can take that spending cash and put it aside for a rainy day (and improve your finances).
It’s up to you to determine how long you want to pause your discretionary spending.
Just think, any money that you don’t spend on these items, is money which you can save for the future.
6. Make a Grocery List Before You Go Shopping and Stick to It
Grocery shopping bills can really add up, especially when you go shopping without a grocery list.
There’s one thing you should never do. Don’t go out without making a list and checking it twice. Seriously!
Before you head out to the food store, make sure you have a list made up with all of the things you will be getting at the store.
Also, take a look at any coupons you may have and see if they will help you save money on your shopping trip.
By having a list and using coupons, you’ll find that what could be a pricey trip to the food store is actually an economical one.
To get more savings, you could also use grocery-saving apps such as Ibotta and Drop.
This is an easy step to take in striving for optimal money goals.
See Related: Best Cashback Apps to Use
7. Contact Creditors for Lower Interest Rates
Another small but crucial step which you should take to improve your finances is to contact your current creditors to see if they will lower your interest rates.
Interest rates are costs which can really bump up the overall price of your debt.
By trying to get a lower interest rate, you are taking a really important step in the right direction to lowering your total debt.
Believe it or not:
A lot of creditors aren’t always sharks. They’re not always there to bite you with interest and penalties.
Many times creditors are there to help you.
I’ve asked my credit card companies if they could lower my interest rates. Do you know what their answer was? The answer was yes.
Because of lowered interest rates, I was able to pay off my debt faster and was able to save money faster because I paid less on interest.
8. Bundle Your Entertainment Services
Another simple and not very time-consuming step you can take to improve your finances and save money is to bundle your entertainment services.
Obtain cable, phone, and internet services in one convenient bundle from the same provider and you may experience some beneficial savings each month by doing so.
You can get all of the services that you need from the same provider at a fraction of the price.
9. Cancel Subscriptions You Don’t Need
We’ve all been tempted by subscription services at one time or another.
If you’re one of those individuals who has a lot of subscriptions, take a close look at those items and see what subscriptions you can do without.
You might just want to get rid of one subscription or purge your entire collection of subscriptions in one sweep for the ultimate quest for money goals.
Canceling subscriptions may not seem like it would save a lot of money but you would be surprised as to how much you can save.
Where do you start?
Start by looking at your credit card bills or charges. When you see those services that you don’t need, call the service providers and tell them that you no longer need their services.
Just make sure you are longer bound by a contract and you could face yourself with contract termination. You do not want that charge.
As simple as that!
See Related: How to Move on a Budget
10. Take Advantage of Entertainment Discounts
Entertainment discounts are often available for various locations and event venues.
For example, movie theaters sometimes offer two-for-one specials while amusement parks will often provide discount coupons during certain times throughout the season.
Entertainment discounts make it easier to save money and still have fun while doing so.
11. Dine Out with Your Budget in Mind
Just because you want to improve your finances doesn’t mean you should stop from dining out.
After all, if that’s what you want and that’s your reward for yourself for working hard, then, don’t cut it out completely.
Don’t feel as if you have to give up dining out completely in order to take small steps to improve finances and pursue money goals.
You can either cut back on the amount of times you dine out each month or dine out in a more economical fashion.
Early bird specials and two-for-one dining options provide you with a way to save cash and still savor the enjoyment of eating at restaurants.
When you dine out, just keep your ultimate finance goals and concrete budget in mind.
12. Restrict Online Shopping
Shopping sprees can be tempting, but these days it’s even easier to embark on shopping sprees with online shopping access at your fingertips 24/7.
In order to really save money and take the necessary steps to do so, you have to possess the willpower to say no to online shopping, at least to frequent online shopping.
With so many online shopping deals, sales, and free shipping offers, it’s hard to resist the temptation of online shopping.
Therefore, it’s up to you to restrict your online shopping to once a month or on an as needed basis to enable you to take the steps to save money for your future needs.
Here’s a trick that always works.
When you see something you like online or in-store, try to sleep on it for a week or so. If it’s no longer in your mind, then, that’s a want and that’s something you should pass on.
If, however, you still have that something in mind, then, that’s a need.
So, what do you do then? Ask yourself if there are substitutes for that product or service or coupons/discounts to lower the price.
See Related: How to Invest in Real Estate with Little Money
13. Take Time to Think Before Buying
Sometimes it’s those impulse buys which tend to rack up the bills.
Resist the urge to buy something you like right away and think on it.
You might find that when you take a little bit of time to ponder your purchase, it might not be a good way to spend your money after all.
Also, you may find a similar item with a more favorable price tag when you wait a little while and survey your options.
This will allow you to keep some cash in your pocket and act as a small step to improve your finances.
Final thoughts on Important Money Goals
While many people don’t believe that money goals aren’t for everybody, believe it or not, those goals are for everyone.
No matter how big or small your money goals are, they can be achieved when you put your mind into those and believe in those goals.
So, where do you go from here?
The answer is simply to start creating your goals, start achieving them little by little, and you’ll be happy now or down the road that you make such move.
Have you done any money goals? Do you think those goals are achievable? Do you believe that these can make a big difference in your finances? Please let me know your thoughts.
“Allan Liwanag is the blogger behind The Practical Saver. An analyst by day and dedicated blogger by night, he loves to share his thoughts – based on his research, personal knowledge, and experience – on topics related to family, life, and money.”
Good post, it’s always important to take advantage of your company’s contributions and making sure that you have a good credit score. Budgets are hard to stick to but in the long run, I would argue they’re absolutely necessary for anyone who wants to reach financial independence. 12 is also a good point, especially because nowadays Amazon makes everything so easy and so tempting, it’s ridiculously easy to go on a shopping spree when they have sales, my personal rule is to only buy stuff on sale that I’m sure I was going to buy anyways.
Thank you for the info and great blog!
Each year I try to increase my deferral percentage. Over time I’ve gone from 3% to 6% in my Roth 401(k)!