Spring has sprung, and taken with it the first quarter of the year.
You may wonder where the past few months have gone. You may feel discouraged at your lack of progress on the financial goals you set at the beginning of the year.
Many feel that way; with statistics showing less than 10 percent of individuals feel they’re successful with their New Year’s resolutions, it’s likely you’re not alone.
If you’re feeling that way, it’s easy to give up on the financial goals you set at the beginning of the year. If you feel that way and don’t know how to hit your goals this year, keep the following in mind to have success.
Reset and Take A Fresh Look at Your Finances
The best way to approach your financial goals at this point in the year is by hitting the reset button and taking a fresh look at where you stand. Maybe you overlooked something at the beginning of the year, or something has occurred you did not plan on, so it’s important to review your financial life.
“Financial goals are a lifetime thing, not a one-time event. To be successful you need to realize that it is a process and all about setting up healthy financial habits,” says Tammy Johnston, President and CEO of The Financial Guides. By taking a fresh look at your finances, you will see where you truly stand and if you need to readjust your goals or narrow your focus to a particular area.
One key area this can be helpful is with your expenses, especially if you don’t track your spending. You may find services you’re paying for that you don’t use or other savings opportunities. “The average family can find a minimum of $200 a month that they are spending without even knowing it,” says Johnston. An amount such as this can be life-changing if used the right way and can be a great way to jumpstart working on your goals.
Set Regular Meetings
Taking a fresh look at your finances is the first step to getting back on target with your goals. The second step is to regularly look at your finances. You need to personalize it to your particular situation, but setting weekly or monthly appointments with yourself to analyze your finances is ideal.
This is a time to go over your spending, account balances and other specific needs. Think of these times as a way to steer your financial course so you can hit your goals. If you’re married, Johnston recommends including your partner as well as it helps you both stay on the same page financially so you can accomplish the goals together.
Leverage Your Tax Return
Lack of funds is a common culprit in us not reaching financial goals. If you received a tax refund recently, this is a great way to make some headway on your goals. The IRS reports that the average tax refund was over $3,100 for the 2015 tax year.
If you received an amount like that this year, consider using it to work towards your goals. Resist frivolous expenses by choosing to use your tax refund to:
- Pay off debt
- Grow your emergency fund
- Save money for retirement
- Save money for your house down payment fund
These are just a few ideas. Look at where your refund will do the most for you and use it or any ‘found money’ to your advantage.
Organize and Automate
Life gets busy and in the chaos, we forget things. Setting up an organizational system and automating your finances is a great way to keep you on track in case you do forget something as the work is already done for you.
You can automate many areas of your financial life, from saving money to tracking your spending to investing. Apps like Mint, Personal Capital, You Need A Budget (YNAB) or Acorns can help you manage your finances and reach your goals.
If the idea of automating your finances concerns you, or you prefer to physically take care of each particular item, set a day to take care of them each month and stick to it.
It may feel like the year is too far gone to reach the financial goals you set in January. With a majority of the year remaining that is, thankfully, not the case. With a little work and refocusing of your goals this spring, you can end the year on a high note.