Financial Freedom Starts with Smart Money Management
Many of us dream of the day when our money worries will be no more—all of the bills are paid, we can purchase whatever we want, and give generously from our surplus of financial wealth. However, no matter how much we want to be financially free, that freedom will never come without smart money management.
In studying the habits of smart money managers, the number one habit they all share is they have a plan and consistently set financial goals. Most of us would say this habit is common sense, but surveys show that only 10 percent of us set written goals for our lives. This means that the majority of us fall into that 90 percent of disorganized living, aimless spending, and overall poor money management.
One thing is certain: Very few people ever save money without “planning” to. So how do we begin developing and incorporating the habits that will lead to good money management? There are five key steps to goal setting that, if followed, can make us successful in our management of money specifically and our lives in general.
1. Write your goals down
A goal not committed to paper is just a dream. Stored only in the mind it is likely to be forgotten and remain unfulfilled. When a goal is written down it can be visualized; it can be reviewed daily; it can be improved upon; and it can be executed in a way that can never be done with it fighting for attention among the millions of thoughts swimming around in our heads.
2. Make goals difficult but doable
It is unrealistic to only be bringing in $38,000 a year and expect to save $25,000 of that for investing. Goals should be feasible. It is better to challenge ourselves with goals that are a little difficult. This will help us better develop the good money management skills we desire. So, instead of trying to save $25,000 maybe $3,800 is more realistic. After the first financial goals are reached we can always set more difficult goals later. But always be realistic.
3. Set a deadline
Deadlines motivate us to follow through and complete things in a timely fashion. If we could come in to work whenever we wanted most of us would probably never make it. If we could complete company projects or meet quotas on our own time those things would not get completed nearly as often. Without concrete deadlines many things would probably not get done.
4. Make goals measurable
Goals should be specific and not general. For example, saying “I want to save for a family vacation” is a very poorly written goal. A better goal would say “I need $3,000 in 12 months to pay for a family vacation.” We need to know exactly what we are trying to accomplish and it needs to be written out as specifically as possible.
5. Review goals often
Goals have to be looked at often if you want to be successful and accomplish them. Although just looking at them won’t guarantee success, not constantly reviewing them will almost certainly guarantee failure.
Following these five steps can start us on our way to developing the most important habit in smart money management—having a PLAN. After all, how can things go according to plan if we don’t have one?
Davis is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine.