Have you ever heard the term, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? Well, how are you supposed to know the best way to budget your eggs? How much money should you be spending, and still be able to set & keep financial goals? Experts tend to agree on specific percentages of your income that should be allotted each month, so you can begin setting goals for your future.
10% of your income should be put into some sort of savings plan. This percentage of income is mentioned first, because it is the most important percentage to stick to, and yet the easiest to overlook or ignore. The quickest way to financial well-being is to pay you first.
Housing = 35% This is the total percentage should include all expenses to live where you live, such as mortgage payment or rent, utilities, homeowners or renters insurance, property taxes, maintenance, etc.
Transportation = 15% This total percentage should include your auto payment(s), gas, repairs, train/bus/subway, parking, etc.
Debt = 15% This total percentage should include loans, credit card payments, etc.
Other = 25% This total percentage should include all other living expenses, such as eating out, vacations, clothes, etc.
Now that you know where your money is going, it is time to start setting your financial goals. Identify and write down your financial goals, whether they are saving to send your kids to college, buying a new car, saving for a down payment on a house, going on vacation, paying off credit card debt, or planning for retirement.
Educate yourself. Read Money magazine, or a book about investing, or surf internet financial web sites. With a little effort you can learn enough to make educated decisions that will increase your net worth many times over. Then identify small, measurable steps you can take to achieve these goals, and put this action plan to work.
Break each financial goal down into several goals. First think about your short-term goals. What are those goals that are right within your reach? What you'd like to achieve in the next two or three years, such as buy a house, pay off all your credit card debt, or contribute $500 a month into an investment account.
Next you’ll want to think about your long-term goals. Decide what you'd like to achieve in ten years or more, such as pay off mortgage, retire by the age 50, or buy a vacation home. Often times, by achieving your short-term goals, it will help you achieve your long-term goals.
Make your goals specific.They should be concrete and measurable. For example, "I want to be wealthy by the time I retire" could become, "I want to be able to spend $5,000 a year for travel after I retire at age 60."
Take action immediately.Don’t delay. It is too easy to say you’ll start setting goals tomorrow and before you know it another year has passed you by. Your goals will feel more real and achievable, if you start working on them now.
Make a list of your goals, review it often and share it with family and friends. Constant reinforcement and support are invaluable to achieving your goals. Plus it can be fun tracking your progress. Evaluate your progress. Review your progress monthly, quarterly, or at any other interval you feel comfortable with, but at least semi-annually, to determine if your program is working.
Don't give up. If things don't happen as perfectly as you planned, then just redefine your goal or action plan. Defeat is not an option. If you're not making satisfactory progress on a particular goal, re-evaluate your approach and make changes as necessary. The important thing is to not lose confidence in yourself.
Make it a game. Why is it that as adults we don’t take more time to have fun. If your turn your goal tracking into a game, it will be more fun. For example, create a progress chart for your savings goal. Keep it visible. Make a ritual of posting progress and generating the "completion endorphins" that come when you color in the next progress bar.
Banish temptation. Update your web pages, by delete tempting shopping sites, toss out magazines and catalogs or other items that may trigger your need to spend. If you love to shop, don’t go without a plan. And as tough as it may be when you’re fighting pleasure driven habits, your best defense will be to minimize the temptations.
Make spending harder. Get rid of things that make it simple for you to mindlessly spend. For example, making purchases with cash will make you think more than if you simply slide a credit card to pay. Perhaps you try paying everything with cash for six months. A change like this will affect your choices. Do whatever you have to do to stop using a credit card unless you pay it in full each month. Cut it up (but don’t close the account) or freeze it in ice. Whatever it takes.
Turn an accomplice into a friend. If shopping and spending are social activities, identify your accomplices. For example, if you and a friend love spending time at the mall, come clean about the relationship. Let your friend know you are changing your ways and ask for their support.
OR, if you and your significant other love to eat out every other night, find a substitute plan. Do date nights at home or pack your own picnic in the park. Don’t just eliminate the activity, rather create new ones. This way you’ll be more likely to adapt. Engaging the help of friends and loved one is always a great way to build your support team.
It is time to make a change. Success is within your reach if you begin today. All it takes is one day at a time, one goal at a time. And remember that tomorrow will come regardless of your actions. Taking control of your finances is one of the best things you can do for yourself, as you strive toward financial well-being.
All photos provided by Google Images<br />Financial facts provided by:<br />www.kiplinger.com<br />www.free-financial-advice.net<br />www.suzeorman.com<br />Presentation and narration by Ashlyn Camney<br />