By Lynsey K. Freeman
Did you make resolutions around your personal finances last year? Did you reach those goals? Make this the year you review your finances and then look for ways to improve in 2018.
As you plan for the New Year, make your resolutions SMART, the acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals. SMART goals address the three “W” questions of what, why and who.
Let’s say, for instance, your goal is to save more money. That’s a great start, but too vague.
First ask “What?” What exactly is it that you want to accomplish? Do you want to save enough money to retire at age 65? Do you want to save enough for a 20 percent down payment on a new home? Be as precise as possible.
Second ask “Why?” Why do you want to achieve this goal? What is the reason you want to save more money? It’s important to tie financial goals to relevance in your life. If a goal isn’t in line with what you truly want, you’re going to have a difficult time finding success with it.
Then ask “Who?” Who else is involved in your goal? Who do you need to work with to make it happen? Accountability is key. Work with a financial advisor and share your goals with friends and family.
As for SMART:
Specific: The goal needs to be clear and unambiguous. “I’ll save money by only going to Starbucks twice a week” is more specific than “I won’t go to Starbucks as much.”
Measurable: “I will save 10 percent of each paycheck” is measurable while “I will save some money out of each paycheck” is not.
Achievable: An attainable goal is not extreme. The resolution is neither out of reach nor too low that it becomes meaningless. If resolutions are important to you, you will figure out ways to make them come true. You will gain the attitude, mindset and financial capacity to achieve them.
Realistic: Most people would love the idea of retiring early or going on a lavish vacation. However, setting goals around these things must be realistic. It might be achievable to save $30,000 for a vacation this year, but is it realistic if you’re married with three young children? Probably not.
Timely: A commitment to a deadline is vital for success. “I will start saving 10 percent of my paychecks starting Jan. 1” is a more definite time frame than “I will start saving more money after the holidays.”
Reflect on your goals before you sign-off on them. Prepare for the New Year with organization, forethought and accountability. Cheers to the New Year and financially A New You.
Lynsey K. Freeman is a financial advisor and managing associate with WestPac Wealth Partners. She assists people make smart financial decisions using her knowledge, expertise and experience. For more information, call 702.470.2740 or visit thewp2.com/advisor/lynsey-freeman.