Turn of the Year Financial Goal Setting

As one year ends, a new one begins, and with it should come updated goals. So what’s a good process for updating your financial goals for the upcoming year? I use a 4 step process. I begin by reviewing where I ended up on this year’s goals. Next, I take the time to get organized. Once organized, I reflect on my current financial habits and lifestyle and finish by formulating what I want to achieve in the coming year.

For some, this may be an easy task, and for others, it may be a bit more complicated. I find the more organized, and in tune, you stay through the year, the easier this process will be.

I hope this process helps you find direction in the coming year and creates a basis for you to be able to make better financial decisions. If you have questions or would like help with the process, don’t hesitate to schedule a call.

STEP 1 – REVIEW THIS YEAR’S GOALS

Review your written goals for the current year. During this phase, be honest with yourself. If you achieved a goal, what did you do right, and what factors led to your success? If you did not achieve a goal, what went wrong? Could you have done things differently, or were their extenuating circumstances? Don’t beat yourself up if you fell short on achieving a goal this year. Remember, you learned to walk by perfecting the art of falling.

STEP 2 – ORGANIZE YOUR CURRENT FINANCIAL POSITIONING

Accounts
List your financial accounts and then categorize them by their purpose. Take note of the interest you earn on your savings, if the allocation in your investment portfolio meets your objective, what change in value the accounts had, and who your beneficiaries are on each account.

Debt
List each debt you have and categorize them by purpose. When listing them, make notes of your balance, the interest rates, monthly payments, number of payments remaining, and how the balance changed this year.

Income
List your household income by the various sources and make notes on any anticipated changes in the coming year.

Expenses
This step is usually the most time-consuming part of the process. Start by reviewing where you have been spending your money and then group the expenses into categories that make sense to you. Once you have then listed, review each of them to determine if you anticipate any changes for the next year.

Protection
I view protection as the instruments or accounts that protect your ability to maintain your lifestyle. This step entails listing and reviewing; Your insurance policies, including your Life, Disability, LTC, Property, and Liability policies. The accounts that make up your Foundation Fund and any legal documents that are included in your Estate Plan.

STEP 3 – LOOK AT CURRENT HABITS AND LIFESTYLE

During this stage, you will do a bit of self-reflection by taking a look at your lifestyle and habits. It is essential to be true to yourself when doing so. This is the point that you will set your compass.

Financial Habits
Are your current financial habits leading you to meet your goals, or are they hampering your ability to achieve success? The most fundamental rule in achieving financial independence is to spend less than you make, thus allowing you to build resources for the future. How did you do this year, did your debt load increase because you financed your lifestyle, or did your assets grow because you lived below your means. Even if your assets grew, don’t put your guard down. Take a thorough dive into your current spending habits to see if you can become even more efficient.

Lifestyle
The fundamental question is, are you living a life that makes you happy. If not, why and what do you need to do to change. Take this time to reflect on you and your family, what are you trying to achieve, what are your dreams. Write this down along with your goals so you can keep the finish line in sight. Did the decisions you made this year draw you closer to your vision or further away.

STEP 4 – SET YOUR NEW GOALS

At this point, You’ve checked in on how you did last year, organized most aspects of your financial life, reflected on your habits and lifestyle, and by now, have most likely seen what needs your attention in the coming year. Now it’s time for the best part, setting your sights on next year and what is most important for you to achieve.

As you write down the goals that will help you achieve your vision, remember to make them SMART; specific, measurable, attainable, relative, and timely. If you have multiple goals, you may consider listing them in priority of most important to least important.

TIPS

  • As the calendar turns, find ways to keep both your Vision and Goals in front of you. It is easy to get lost in our fast-paced society and loose focus on what is most important.
  • Identify an accountability partner and make a schedule to check in with them.
  • Find tools and form habits to help keep your financial life organized throughout the year.