As you seek to amass wealth in your life, it’s important to budget, track your finances and set SMART goals. It’s not hard to do, but many of us don’t. Either we don’t like the task or we’re just plain lazy. If you want to create a fortune, you have to become a good steward and manager of money and that involves good planning and smart goal-setting.
There are many goal-setting models out there, but perhaps the simplest and easiest to understand is the SMART goal method. Each letter in the word SMART stands for a term that will help you to form better goals for your financial future.
Before we delve in, don’t forget to write your goals down. Grab a pen and paper now if you need to. Very few people actually take the time to do this, but it will dramatically increase the chances of your goals coming into being, for many reasons we won’t get into right now.
You have to get good at telling your money where to go. Otherwise, you might end up spending much of it on impulse buys like coffee, fast food or DVDs. This is where budgeting comes in. If you attach a specific value to each item you need to purchase on a monthly basis (rent, utilities, clothing, etc.), you can develop a clearer picture of how much money you actually need to cover your expenses, and where it’s currently going. Then you can also make conscious decisions as to where you actually want your money to go.
If you don’t know how much passive income you would need to be financially free and be able to self-retire, that might be a good number to determine. If you have an idea of how much money you would like to give to specific charitable causes each month, then that would be another number to write down. There may be many other places you would like to put your money, but bottom line it’s important to attach cash values to everything you want in life.
“Becoming a millionaire” is not a very specific goal. You become a millionaire when you save your first million, but what if you want to make more? Your financial goals should have specific number values attached to them. For example:
- I want to save $150,000 by the time I’m 20
- I want to create a monthly passive income in the amount of $4,000 by the time I’m 35
- I want to invest $200,000 into real estate by the end of 2015
When you have numbers attached to your financial goals, they become measurable. If your goals aren’t measurable, they aren’t specific enough.
Generally speaking, goals that seem massively out-of-reach are de-motivating. It’s a good idea to set goals that you know will stretch you a little bit, but they should still appear attainable from your own perspective. This is where short-term goals come in.
It’s good to have longer term goals like we just talked about, but it’s also beneficial to work backwards to break those goals down into smaller, manageable chunks that you can take action on and work towards on a daily basis. After all, wealth is not built overnight, and it will be your daily habits that create a snowball effect and add up to a greater sum later.
This goes hand-in-hand with what was said in the previous point. A goal that seems too far out-of-reach won’t motivate you on a daily basis. You have to set goals that you feel are realistic based on the time, resources and effort you have to put towards them right now.
“Make $356,234.12 by tomorrow” is very specific, but how realistic does it feel to you right now? It’s not completely outside the realm of possibility, of course, but can you imagine it coming into being now? Does it seem realistic? If not, it’s probably not a solid goal.
Finally, your goals need to be time-bound. You need to determine a suitable date for the ultimate achievement of each goal. Again, taking into account the previous criteria of being specific, measurable, attainable and realistic, you should set dates that seem reasonable to you for the completion of your goals.
You will win some and you will lose some, but nothing is stopping you from starting over and re-setting your goals if you don’t meet them the first time around. Don’t lose your motivation, and don’t give up on your dreams.