It is the beginning of a new year and what a great time to reset and start to focus on your financial goals. It is time for you to level up your life and achieve more.
Setting the right goals for you
Goal-setting is necessary for all aspects of life. It allows us to plan, visualise, motivate and execute our wants and wishes. Without it, we become aimless in any direction.
Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur and motivational speaker, once said: “It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go”.
This quote really states that planning your future is crucial to success.
Some of us want to become financially independent and maybe even retire early, others want to simply get pay off their debt and have more passive income.
Knowing where to start with setting financial goals can be difficult without some guidance. So, let’s start with the basics:
Firstly, you want to set SMART goals, which is a framework for setting realistic and achievable targets. The acronym stands for:
- S – Specific
- M – Measurable
- A – Achievable
- R – Relevant
- T – Timely
With this in mind, you need to break down your all-encompassing financial goals, such as retiring early, into smaller goals. These goals should be very specific, and not too far into the future.
For example, reducing your mortgage down from £100,000 to £50,000 within 5 years may be a specific, measurable and timely target. But this, of course, isn’t enough. You need to plan how you will hit such a goal (make X amount of mortgage overpayments). Even making such overpayments requires a plan, though. How will you have the money for that? Well, it’s time to make a budget.
As you can see, your core, initial goal should be long-term. This is what you want to head towards. But after that… You must break it into chronological, bite-sized steps.
You can see my own goals in my 7 steps plan to financial freedom. My journey towards financial freedom follows these steps, and every step I take makes me motivated to move forward.
Before moving on, it’s worth noting that your core goal is often going to determine your risk level (or vice versa, your risk level will determine your core goal). So, make sure these match up – for example, you often can’t be averse to investing and wish to retire early. Likewise, you can’t have a high-risk tolerance but only have short-term goals. This doesn’t match up because high-risk strategies are usually very long-term, so you can ride out waves in the market.
Making a budget is the key
Almost any financial goal you set can be sure of one thing: budgeting. Even goals that are loosely connected, such as having a diversified portfolio with a value of € 1m, is still dependent on saving – as this is your investment money. So, how do you go about making a budget?
It all seems very arbitrary at first. How much should I be putting aside for food? For investments? Etc.
Well, you can start by just calculating your expenses and income. Here, you can also calculate your savings ratio (how much you save as a percentage of income). See your current situation first – you can make relative improvements from there.
Right now, I save and invest 50% of my income. My budget has really helped me to have an overview and manage my income.
The next move is to plan how to achieve the short-term SMART goals you set. If it’s paying off your car loan, calculate how much you can pay off and if you will be charged for overpayments.
Your budget can be fragmented into many sections. You could potentially split your money into virtual pots. You can even direct debit monthly payments of your own money into these different spaces. Different spaces could be for: rent, bills, groceries, subscriptions, car costs, investments, debt repayments, clothes, and so on.
This allows you to see what you have left over (if anything) and where you need to cut back. Suddenly it’s handy to look at other bloggers and the experiences of financially literate people to gain more perspective on how well you’re doing and what action you can take.
Developing good habits
There are two core aspects of achieving most financial goals: saving and investing. Habits are important in improving both of these but it takes time to change.
Having a savers’ mindset is difficult for some. Often, the way we are brought up can ingrain a consumerist mindset that struggles to defer gratification. It’s totally possible to overcome this, though, and totally necessary if you want to invest.
Reducing your monthly outgoings to achieve your goals literally comes down to those few moments each day. Those moments where you either decide to pack yourself a lunch and have coffee on-the-go or if you grab a store-made salad on your commute. These moments are impulsive and it’s crucial to get in a habit of frugality becoming second nature.
Some may initially think of this as oppressive, to constantly be in a state of fear around not spending. Of course, you don’t want to slip into being neurotic, but it can actually go the other way and improve your life. Not giving into impulsive behaviour can grow you as a person.
Personally, I set aside a certain amount each month for activities with my wife and have set aside a certain amount for myself. These can then be used on things I would like. E.g. watch a movie at the cinema or buy new things.
In this way, you become much more forward-thinking, more in control and make more healthy decisions. Furthermore, you don’t have to feel bad because the money is already allocated and it’s totally fine to use it.
Mindset for financial success
The other aspect of forming good habits is having a positive and growing mindset. Believing in your own plan will help keep you on the right track, as well as having a good relationship and view of money.
I recommend that you invest in yourself and keep learning about investing, personal finance and personal development. You can start reading books and blogs and be inspired.
It can also be a good idea to practice positive money affirmations in one form or another. This can reaffirm your belief, which ultimately leads to more positive decisions. A lot of the time when people overspend impulsively, it’s down to a lack of confidence, happiness, and direction.
Choosing the right investments
Choosing the right investments is fundamental to achieving long-term financial goals and many short-term goals. SMART goals are very important here, but there are also some other things to find out.
At Mintos, you should look into the Mintos Ratings and determine your own risk tolerance. I also suggest you use buyback guarantees and diversify between the 60+ loan originators on the platform. This will minimize the risk.
In general, ambitious expectations for return on investment require both time and some risk.
Mintos is a great investment opportunity to achieve your financial goals. It’s my favourite P2P lending platform and I have invested for more than 2 years with great returns. In 2018 I got a massive 13.75% in returns and in 2019 I got 12.63%!
You can read more about my experiences in my Mintos review.
I hope you will take action now and make your own SMART goals. It’s up to you to take it to the next level. I wish you a fantastic year and a blessed future.
About the author:
Peter Michael is an investor and the blogger behind My Investment Blog. He saves more than 50% of his income with a “normal” middle-class day job. He lives with his wife in Denmark, and they aim to achieve financial independence.