Planning to reach your goals
Planning is the most important step to realizing your financial goals. The following strategies can help.
Write down your goals.
Your first step is to clarify and define what you want in your future and write it down. Putting your goals in writing will strengthen your commitment and push you to start thinking seriously and realistically about how to achieve them.
Start saving now.
Financial goals often seem distant and less important than our immediate concerns. But if you want to increase the likelihood of realizing your financial dreams, it’s critical to start saving now. The passing of time has a dramatic effect on the growth of your savings due to the power of compound interest.
In fact, if you start saving in your 20s, you could see your money double several times over before even reaching retirement. No matter how old you are, starting to save today will pay off significantly over the years.
You might think the small amounts you save each month are too trivial to have an impact on your future. But everything in life starts out small. If you make more contributions, say on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, you’ll put more of your money to work sooner, accelerating its growth through the power of compound interest.
An Automatic Savings Plan (ASP) can help you make regular savings contributions by setting aside a set amount at regular time intervals. Most people coordinate their ASP contributions with their payday cycle, so they don’t even notice the money being put aside.
Stick with it.
Once you have an ASP in place, stay focused on your goal. Even if your financial situation changes down the road, it makes more sense to adjust the plan to your new circumstances rather than cancel it entirely.
Use annual reviews to stay on track.
It’s important to keep your plan on track. One way is to review your progress annually and consider adjustments that may enhance your plan as your circumstances change over time. As well, you should reassess your plan whenever there are major changes in your life. Some key life changes that may have an effect on your financial situation include:
- Significant increases or decreases in household income
- Receipt of an inheritance or other lump-sum of money
- The purchase of a new home or other property
The amount you set aside could be just one hour of pay each day. If that’s too much for you at this time, start even smaller. You’ll soon see how easy it is to save automatically.