Financial Goalsetting

I challenge you to do something you may not have done in a while. I want you to spend an hour planning your financial future.

I’ve found that just an hour of soul-searching and planning pays huge dividends, even if it’s done just once in a Blue Moon. So, schedule that meeting with yourself now, and start thinking about what it is you want to accomplish financially.

Do it tonight, this weekend, or whenever and wherever you can commit to a one-hour meeting. Have it in a place where you can work undisturbed. When you eventually reach your financial goal, you’ll be grateful you had this meeting, so take it seriously.

Savings Percentage

If you haven’t already, establish a budget, including a savings percentage. Your savings percentage is the amount you take right off the top of every future paycheck to fund your chosen financial goals, forcing you to live on what’s left over. I’ve found this is the best way to save for any financial goal.

If you’re lucky and you have a 401(k)-type plan at work, be sure and include your 401(k) plan’s contributions in your savings percentage. If attaining financial independence is at the top of your list, try and max out your contribution this year and every year thereafter. Unless you have a dog plan, there’s no better place for your money.

The trick is to set your savings percentage high enough to reach your goals in a reasonable amount of time but leave enough left over to live comfortably. Call this small fraction of your income saved your saving percentage, prosperity percentage, or whatever. It’s your most important money. I want you to treat it as such.

Choose your most important money percentage carefully. Once you commit to it, you must have the discipline to stick to it through thick and thin. You’ve got to defend your most important money percentage at all costs!

Need help setting up a budget and saving money? Changing Your Spending and Savings Habits and Living on What’s Left Over are 2 of the chapters in my book, Best Debt Elimination Plan. If you haven’t yet downloaded this no-strings-attached free e-book in the format of your choice, do it now. Or listen via Audible.

Debt Elimination First

Did you read the shocking statistic that was released a few weeks ago? High-interest personal debt just passed the 1 trillion-dollar mark in the United States for the first time. If you’re among those ranks, you need to get out of that credit trap now.

If you’re carrying high-interest debt, you need to read the free book too, before you start your wealth building. You’ll have trouble reaching any goal with that high-interest monkey on your back.

Because I want everyone to have access to this potentially life-changing information, I’m now distributing Best Debt Elimination Plan for free through Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and other major booksellers.

Financial Dreaming

Dreaming allows us to think seriously about what’s most important. Given our limited disposable income, we can then figure out how to fit those wants into what may be an already crowded budget.

Start your meeting by brainstorming ideas. Summarize your wants into a few words and write them down on paper, an electronic device, or a whiteboard so you can study them.

Decide whether to be singular in your pursuits or direct your most important money towards several goals. Aim high but be realistic. Narrow that list as necessary. Set yourself up for success rather than failure.

Next, consider your savings percentage and the number of goals on your list. Now assign what you feel is a realistic completion date for each goal. It’s fine to guess at this point.

Do the Math

Since we’re dealing with numbers, you need to quantify each goal. Specifically, figure out how much of your per paycheck savings it will take to reach each goal by your prescribed attainment dates.

For short-term goals, divide the sum needed by the number of pay periods between now and your goal’s fruition date. That’s the amount you’ll take off the top of every future paycheck until your goal is reached.

With longer-term goals, include an inflation factor and a rate of return to get as accurate a forecast as possible. Turn to an online calculator to do the heavy lifting. The custodian of your employer’s 401(k)-type plan or Roth IRA more than likely has one.

There are lots of other resources available too. The SEC offers a savings calculator at investor.gov or check out the NerdWallet® version.

Once you’ve got some hard numbers, revisit those financial goals. This can be difficult because there’s a good chance your savings aren’t going to be big enough for all of them. You’re bound to have to make some adjustments at this point, whether it’s lengthening a time horizon, putting off a lesser important goal, or deciding to up your most important money percentage.

Writing Prosperity Paragraphs

This next step is crucial to your success. Write a “prosperity paragraph” for each of your choices. Do it even if writing isn’t your thing. Don’t worry about the form; You’re the only one who’s going to read them.

  • Keep it short; try not to exceed 4 sentences.
  • Write in the first person, acting as if you’ve already achieved the goal.
  • Include your timeline and the target dollar amount.
  • Try and express the joy and sense of accomplishment you’ll feel upon attainment.

The days of waking up and dreading going to work are over. Saving every penny I could scrounge, $80,000 in all over the last 30 months, gave me the resources needed to pursue my dream. Now I can’t wait to get out of bed and get going on my new business, which can’t help but succeed given my newfound work ethic.

An incredible weight, one I’ve been carrying around for far too long, has finally been lifted. It took twelve months and lots of financial discipline to eliminate my $30,000 in student loans, and now my financial opportunities for the future seem endless!

I leave the stage, diploma in hand, to join my family this late spring day. One and a half years after starting my journey, I realize all those night school hours and $25,000 in tuition were worth it. My immediate jump in pay is nice but in the longer term, I know this is just the beginning.

Don’t be afraid to be more decadent with your choices if your circumstances warrant it. I’m all for enjoying the moment, and sometimes that costs money. It’s up to you and your conscience to decide what’s best for you and your family.

Hiking to secluded beaches, a canoe ride through an impenetrable jungle, “Jesus Christ” lizards, Howler monkeys, poison frogs, Nicaragua rum, cacao, and native tilapia jumping in the stream by our rental house were just a few of the highlights of our Costa Rica vacation. Getting the family together for a week in paradise was what really made it special and well worth the planning, booking, and savings.

Be Authentic

Put your literary masterpieces away for a day or two, then re-read them. If the picture your words describe doesn’t send tingles up and down your spine, you should try again. Be more honest with yourself. Pick the financial goal you know deep down is the right one to pursue.

Writing your prosperity paragraphs is a huge step towards achievement. Studies have shown writing it down in this manner greatly enhances your chances for success, so make sure not to skip this important part of your meeting.

Goal Setting Universe

The James Webb telescope recently snapped this picture of a tiny sliver of our Universe. I can’t stop looking at it.

See the ringed orb near the center? That’s Neptune with its 14 moons, the most distant of the planets in our solar system, which is around 3 billion miles from Earth. In the background, there is a smattering of hundreds of galaxies of different shapes, sizes, brightness, and hues. Each of those galaxies contains at least 100 billion suns or stars.

What does it all mean? I’m not sure. All I know is I’d rather have all that power and vastness working for me, not against. That’s why I suggest one more step. To seal the deal.

Once you’ve adjusted your savings percentages and have started actively saving every paycheck, it’s time to go primal. Go outside on a clear, dark night and find a comfortable place where you can view the night sky.

Give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness. Orient yourself to the compass points. Find the elliptical, the imaginary path the Sun, Moon, and planets follow, and try and spot Jupiter, Venus, or Mars. When you’re ready, recite your prosperity paragraphs aloud and ask the Universe for help.

Sticking to your budget and not compromising on your most important money percentage can be hard. In the coming months, you’ll need all the help you can get.