3 Steps to Prioritize and Set Money Goals

Updated on July 12th, 2016

Like most people, you probably know you need to put more money aside for financial goals but haven’t quite done it yet. If you want to follow a simple process for identifying what’s important to you and then start putting money away to reach the goals, then these tips are for you.

Prioritize your goals.

Assuming you have enough money to pay your bills, put money towards any debt you might have and ship funds to a retirement account, decide how to prioritize the funds that remain. Financial Expert and Writer, Dorethia Kelly of MoneyChat.com believes in keeping your debt low and cash high. Kelly explains, “If you know your emergency fund has taken a beating, fund that first, then put more money towards paying down debt.” While she strongly emphasizes being debt free she also makes her clients focus on a fun goal. Saving money isn’t fun if you can’t enjoy life. Make sure you save for your fantasy sports league fees, a weekend getaway or even spa day. Pick the top three priorities you want to focus on now and then figure out how much they will cost you.

Set savings goals

Once you have finished the step mentioned above, it can benefit you to open up separate savings accounts for each money goal. This way you can concentrate your efforts and set a realistic timeframe to achieve them. After choosing, decide how much money you need at the finish line to reach the goal and determine when you’d like to ideally have this amount. Then figure out how much you need to put away on a regular basis to have enough by your deadline. Have the amount pulled out to correspond with when you get paid (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly).

Figure out how to save regularly

It can be hard for people with variable incomes to gauge how much they can realistically transfer regularly. A client might leave, maybe you had a slow month or your still trying to make sure you get payment from a dead beat client. Financial Planner, Neal Frankle of WealthPilgrim.com believes it’s a smart idea to keep extra money in your account in order to allow for smooth bill paying and funding your goals. He adds, “Once you have a sufficiently large cushion, then you could and probably should automate these goals.”

No matter what you decide, it’s necessary to identify exactly what you are saving for, determine how much you need to put away and start putting away small amounts at a time to be able to reach your goals. Once you start reaching your goals or at least making progress on them, you’ll know that you’re becoming a success in that area.

Karen Cordaway

Karen Cordaway

Karen is a Nationally Syndicated Personal Finance Writer who sharpens her skills at US News Money. You can also find her placing clients on podcasts and reading about home office organization, productivity and habits.

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