The new year is upon us, and at the risk of boring you to tears about setting “New Year’s Resolutions”, my intention with this post is to help you not to suck at keeping your money goals at least!
You may have started on some of your own in the past, only to find yourself back-tracking almost immediately (myself included!). For many people, “saving more money” is firmly up there with “losing weight” and “eating more healthily”, but like most goals, it lacks definition and structure, and this is one of the reasons why they fail.
How do you want life to look?
Another reason why goals fail is because we don’t have money goals that are in alignment with our own wants and desires. We become influenced by social media, our neighbours, our friends and family etc etc etc.
So we might have a goal that is actually someone elses.
Check in with yourself – what truly lights you up? What “sparks joy” in your life.
Spend some time working out what you want out of your life , now and in the future- this will then enable you to set the goals that are more in alignment with this. What money goals will work for you?
What motivates you?
Motivation has a lot to do with why we don’t meet our goals. If we are motivated by negative things like “not being fat” or “not being broke”, it’s very easy to lose momentum once we reach our desired outcome of “not fat” or “not broke”. Once this happens, what is motivating us to maintain what we’ve achieved?
Nothing, that’s what.
The drive to reach the goal was born out of not wanting something, leading us to repeat the pattern and put on weight or get back into debt again.
Positive motivators on the other hand propel you and draw you on. They will keep you working on your goals, setting new ones and inching towards your desired outcomes. You never run out of momentum because you’re working towards something, not running away from something.
Will-power alone is not enough
For goals to work, they also need to be SMART (specific, measurable, action-orientated, realistic, time-based). There’s no point just saying that you want to “save more”. Instead, ask yourself:
- How much?
- When do I need it by?
- What am I saving for?
- What can I realistically save each month?
- How can I bring in enough money to reach my target?
- Can I cut down on my expenses?
- How will I track my progress?
- Is this in alignment with that I desire for my life?
What Should I Be Saving For?
If you’re needing a little inspiration, I have a few ideas for you.
Emergency Fund/F*** Off Fund
My first recommendation would be to save at least £1000 for an emergency fund. LOADS of people don’t have one, and when an emergency crops up, they are having to use credit or dip into their wage packet leaving them out of pocket for the month. To have one is a great stress relief!
Once you’ve saved this, gather together enough money to cover you for a set number of months of basic living expenses (bills, food, petrol and transport). How much you need is up to you. This is so that if you needed time off for maternity leave, sickness, or simply that you wanted to change jobs, you have money set aside ready to support you.
While saving for emergencies, make sure you also start creating “sinking funds” for things like:
- A new car, car insurance and servicing
- Paying off debt more quickly
- A holiday
- Christmas and birthdays
- A new baby
- Other big life events like weddings
- Anything else you want or need such as exam fees/courses/books etc
It may be that you can only put aside small amounts while you focus on the emergency fund, but something is better than nothing. Set up a monzo or starling account to help you create “pots” that separate your money into all of these categories.
We often say that we’re “saving” for retirement, when in reality, you’re “investing” for retirement. Everyone needs money to be able to stop working one day, and it is becoming more and more expensive to do as we all live longer.
Paying into a pension is a great start, but what is your pension invested in? Ask your workplace for details, because you might be invested in something that is barely making any money at all, or plastered with high fees.
After this, it’s about working out what you need in retirement. What lifestyle do you want to have? Go back to checking in with yourself. It’s a step that so many people don’t take.
The trick is not to try and do too much too quickly. Saving a nice big chunk of money in January is great, but only if it fits in with your other commitments. Often what happens is the money you’ve saved just gets taken out again. It’s human nature and a fact of life!
Here’s what I suggest:
Work out your target
So let’s say your first goal is a £1000 emergency fund and you want it done in 6 months (many in my facebook community have managed to achieve this, even those in retirement!!).
£1000 / 6 months = £167 per month
Is this realistic based on your current income? What needs to change to achieve it? Do you need to work an extra shift, sell things or look at your bills? If it’s not realistic, change your time frame.
Track Your Progress
I would then create a way of tracking your progress towards your money goals. I love colouring in things to do this, so I would draw out 100 squares on a page and colour in a square everytime I saved 1% of my goal.
Sticker charts work well too and you can involve your kids!
Tell other people your intentions
Find a money coach (like me!), facebook communities to join or save money with a friend! The more people you have that can help to hold you accountable will increase your chance of success.
Give yourself little treats when you reach milestones, like 25% or 50% for example. Just don’t ruin it by spending loads of money!
Remember why you started
If you struggle, remember why you started. As with any major habit change, the times when it’s hard are the times you need to try harder. Put reminders up of your goals in lots of places. Dream boards are good for this!
Think progress, not perfection – achieving results is often not a straight line!
Sorting out your finances is not easy. It takes time and consistent effort, EVEN when it doesn’t go to plan.
In the past, I have dug my way out of my overdraft more times than I can count, simply because my budget hadn’t been accurate enough. If it fails, tweak it and try again.
Just remember to make your goals SMART and get others to support you. A money coach that you have rapport with is an excellent person to help you to reach them. Above all, go easy on yourself… learning a new skill isn’t easy, so kudos to you for doing it.
Come and join my FREE facebook group to get help with YOUR money goals.
Until next time,