Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve talked to many friends and followers about their financial progress and their new goals. Having the conversation and recognizing the need to adjust your lifestyle and finances is a great start, but it will only be that…a start.
You need to be mentally prepared for this life time marathon and be prepared to hold yourself accountable to meet your goals. It’s the only way this will work and it won’t be easy. Staying within your budget won’t happen on its own. You’ve got to work on it every day and every week.
Here are some tips, best practices and strategies to hold yourself accountable to your financial goals:
This method is one of my favorites because the theory is very simple.
- S – specific
- Make sure your goals are very specific. Narrow and targeted goals will keep you focused. As an example, I will brew my coffee at home in order to cut from my coffee budget. Click here to learn more about this example.
- M – measurable
- Goals need to be measurable. In this case, what is measurable will be the dollars you save, the emergency fund you grow, the retirement account you contribute to every month, etc.
- A – attainable
- It’s very easy to think, “I want to be debt free in 10 years.” Great goal, but HOW are you going to get there and is it attainable in 10 years? To make goals attainable, set bite sized goals. What do you need to do on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly basis to help you become debt free in 10 years?
- R -relevant
- Since we are talking about your personal finances, make sure your goals are relevant to it (obvious). However, this same exercise will work on your personal and professional lives!
- T – time
- As for time, set a timeline for your goals. Just make sure that your timeline is attainable. An overly aggressive goal with a short time frame can easily discourage you. Be realistic.
Holding yourself accountable can be tough, especially when the only thing stopping you from that shopping spree is yourself. Find a family member, a friend you trust, or your significant other to hold you accountable to your financial goals. In my case, my wife and I are our own accountability buddies. We are laser focused on becoming debt free and to build wealth. There have been plenty of times when I almost bought very expensive shoes and Vania has given me the death stare or has sent me threatening text messages. I have my weak moments too.
Have the right mindset
Financial accountability is not a physical task, it’s all in our minds. Make sure to set a long term vision for your financial life. Are you willing and ready to run this marathon? You’ve got to be in the right mindset to make this work. Don’t stay committed for 1 week and then give up!
Track your progress
This comes back to the M, A, and T from the SMART goals. Tracking your progress is extremely important. This will help you calibrate and to stay on target. It’s just like tracking your expenses against your budget. Since you will create measurable, attainable, and set a timeline for your goals, set up calendar reminders every 3 months to track your progress.
Make this a priority
This point is easier said than done. You’ve got to make this a priority. It has to be a consistent exercise and you’ve got to give it thought. Without this being a priority, you will loose focus.
Surround yourself with like minded people
We are incredibly influenced by those friends and family we stick close to. Find a friend that is on this same path to financial freedom and who is already in the right mind set. The testimony from that person will influence you to make yourself better and it will motivate you to work on your financial goals.
As the final point, you’ve got to keep learning. Learn about new strategies, tips, and best practices to make yourself better at managing your finances. Learn from those who have already succeeded or who from those who have made significant financial progress. Find yourself a mentor and stay committed to learn from the positive influences in your life. Have open conversations with the people you trust about personal finances. Pick up a book from Barnes and Nobles, buy an e-book, follow our blog and from other sources online that will support your goals. Make it a routine and this will go a very long way!
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