5 Strategies for Achieving Your Financial Goals
Have you set a financial goal this year? When it comes to saving up for a large expense or paying down debt, a vague promise just isn't enough. Real financial progress happens when you make plans with set dates, budgets, and rules to follow in order to hit your goal. That said, mapping out the path to monetary success can be overwhelming—especially if your goal is years away—and sticking to it is often another challenge entirely!
Whether you're dreaming about buying a house or getting out of debt, you can use these five simple strategies to stay centered and keep your financial goals within reach:
1. Think Realistically
They say if you can visualize it, you can achieve it—so start thinking seriously about what your end goal looks like. The key here is to think critically and avoid fantasizing, says social psychology Professor Gabriele Oettingen, whose research showed that people who mentally prepare for setbacks and obstacles are more likely to achieve their goals than those who only think positive thoughts.
2. Resist Impulse Buys
We've all been there—you run to the store to buy one item but end up leaving with ten. To help curb the urge to splurge, minimize your shopping trips and create a list of all your previous impulse buys from the past year to avoid making similar mistakes.
3. Use Credit Wisely
No matter if you're building credit or paying down debt, using credit irresponsibly is a surefire way to sabotage your plan. Avoid common credit mistakes such as closing old accounts, opening too many new cards at once, or missing monthly payments. Use a credit card to make every day purchases, like groceries and gas. These small purchases, expenses that you've already factored into your budget, can help build and maintain good credit, which is critical for getting home or auto loans in the future.
4. Focus on Today
It's true that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Dwelling on the distance between your financial starting line and target destination can be overwhelming, so try to focus on making small daily changes that can add up to big savings over time. For example, forgoing your daily five-dollar latte could mean an extra $35 in your pocket every week, which is more than $1,800 a year! Over time, you'll see that small day-to-day spending tweaks like this get you closer to your long-term financial goals.
5. Reward Yourself for Small Wins
People training for a marathon don't run 26.2 miles on their first day. They train incrementally and are rewarded as they build endurance—and the same strategy can be applied to reaching your financial finish line. Divide your five-year plan into smaller, less intimidating milestones and treat yourself (within reason) as you pass each one. Be proud of your achievements!
With a little patience and planning, your financial goals can become a reality rather than a resolution to be scrapped and restarted each year. And, there are plenty of financial resources to help you stay on course, such as free online monthly access to your credit score when you register your online account with a Credit One Bank Visa® credit card.