So you’ve set some financial goals for 2019, huh? We’re not surprised. Money-related New Year’s resolutions are among the most popular resolutions out there, usually behind health, hobby, and family-related goals.
Now comes the tough part: actually following through on your resolution.
While we can assure you we’re rooting you on and applaud your effort, we all know that come February or March, it can be a lot tougher to say we actually followed through on our resolutions and goals than it seemed on New Year’s Eve.
Whatever your ultimate financial goals for 2019—reducing debt, saving up for a trip, or simply spending less—building an effective financial plan is crucial to making them happen. However, this plan is a different beast than the kind you may have in mind for your other resolutions.
Unlike hitting the gym three times a week, the plan required to achieve your financial goals requires a unique combination of lifestyle changes, self-discipline, and smart organization that sets it apart from the rest.
So how do you create one that works?
Before we break down how to create a killer financial plan to rocket you to financial success in 2019, let’s break down a few of the benefits of developing a financial plan in the first place.
The pathway to reaching your financial goals is littered with life lessons and emotionally healthy habits. Just like a goal of “eating healthier” might lead us to curb some of the habits that led us to unhealthiness in the first place, the goal of “saving up for a down payment on a house” carries a lot of other benefits with it, too.
As you curb your habits and develop new ones, prioritizing your interests and cutting out the unnecessary from your life, you’ll start to see an effect on your well being, from your mental health to your daily routine! It won’t be easy, but with a well-built financial plan, you can accomplish nearly anything.
While deciding to “drink less soda” might help you see results over time, if you don’t have a sense of how much soda you’ve been drinking and how many calories you stand to lose by cutting it out, it’s hard to assess how your results will look in a detailed way.
For a financial plan to work, you need to break things down to the dollars and cents. The truth is that most of us don’t make financially smart decisions simply because we aren’t actively engaged with our finances. When you don’t think about the potential $4 might have over time, you’re a lot more likely to buy that $4 coffee every day on the way to work, rather than brewing an equally good cup at home for 20 cents.
Putting numbers alongside the habits your financial plan lays out—like a $76 monthly coffee savings on coffee—and you’ll be that much more likely to stick to your plan.
When you think about your professional goals for 2019, you’re probably also thinking to 2020, 2021, and beyond. Sure, you might be able to find a job in your field or get a promotion in 2019! But we all know getting to where you want to go professionally is a marathon, not a sprint.
Reaching your financial goals requires means thinking long term. If you and your spouse make $80,000 a year, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to save for a $50,000 down payment in one year. However, being able to say “we’ll buy a house in three years” makes that number a lot easier to achieve.
Your financial plan is a roadmap for your marathon, telling you exactly how fast to run and where to find the water cups. Setting your financial plan up for a few years into the future can ensure you’re prepared for the long haul.
While at the beginning of a diet, the “all rice, veggies, and chicken” approach has a certain appeal, the reality of the diet may prove overwhelming, very fast. And caving into a craving can leave you feeling like a failure.
The same feelings are true for a financial plan, whether it’s a last-minute purchase or an unexpected car repair. If you were expecting to save $3000 this year by avoiding dinners out, but your out-of-town friend made an unexpected visit, you may feel like you’ve failed by spending $60 over a weekend on food and drinks. Accepting that life happens can really help your adherence to your plan—and it might help you still pass on that appetizer when you’re out with your friend!
The best diet is one you can stick to. Strictly following your financial plan, but building one that allows you to live a little may help you stick to it for the long term.
Becoming financial successful—and defining what that means to you—is challenging, but it’s not impossible. All it takes is hard work, sustained effort, and a strong financial plan. Develop a good enough financial plan ad you’ll be ready for the long financial journey ahead of you in 2019—and every year after.
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