Financial goal setting is easy to master. Create goals that are specific, with beginning and end dates. The easiest way to do it is to answer the questions who, what, when, where and why.

WHO? Since you’re the one setting the goals, you are the "who" here.

WHAT? What you want to accomplish (i.e., save $400 or pay off a credit card).

WHEN? Set specific start and end dates for meeting your goals.

WHERE? Where you’re getting the money from to meet your goals (i.e., saving, cutting back other expenses, investing, etc.).

WHY? The most important question. Decide why your goal is important to you. Your "why" is what keeps you from spending $500 on an antique garden gnome instead of transferring the money into savings. (Of course, goals being a personal thing, getting that gnome might be one of your goals—in that case, go for it!). By answering these questions in your goal statement, you will create specific, achievable and realistic goals. Additionally, keep your goals positive—focus on what will happen, not what will not happen.

Break down your goals
A goal that seems enormous at first glance becomes much more manageable when you divide it into small, attainable steps. Here’s an example:

Elaine wants to eliminate her credit card debt, so she’s created the following goal: “Beginning this month, I will eliminate my $5000 credit card debt in six months."

Here’s where the "how" part of the equation comes in. Elaine’s not focusing on the large $5000 amount, but instead has broken it up into smaller, manageable chunks (about $833 plus interest). She then figures out how she can chip away at that $833 each month by creating action steps.

She’s decided to bring a lunch to work each day instead of dining out ($140 a month), referee three high school and middle school soccer games a week ($500 a month) and get a roommate ($300 a month). By doing these things, Elaine will actually exceed her initial goal—and can reward herself with a night on the town for all her work!

How you partition your goals is up to you—the most important part of creating action steps is to make them attainable so that you don’t get discouraged.

Implement your plan
Follow your action steps and track your progress. You might even find the act of crossing off these “to-do’s” addictive. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you get off-track. All you need to do is review your goals and adjust them appropriately. Remember, there are often many routes to the same result.

  Read previous newsletters:

Simple golden rules for financial freedom
Postal rate change requires more loose change

Grab your suitcase, it's vacation time!
Going green
Pleasure felt at home. . .

Develop a motivated mindset!
A bit of holiday planning can go a long way!
Are you covered?

Making sense of mortgages
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Get more life from your living room

Does your home have curb appeal?
Allergy-proofing the home
Get your garden growing for summer
Remodeling by the numbers
A less taxing tax season
Mail service users get their 2 cents' worth
he true spirit of the season

Making real and positive connections

All the facts to getting mortgage free
Client appreciation program
Breaking the mold
Homeowners insurance tips
Ringing in the new year
Thanksgiving spirit
Curb appeal
Summer greetings
Summer energy saving tips
"Back" to health
Tips on buying a home
Budgeting to buy a home

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