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Start Strong, Finish Successful: The 4 Best Ways to Set Financial Goals For The New Year

By Mrs. Shay Cook, CEO of Crusaders for Change, LLC (C4C) Accredited Financial Counselor® & Financial Fitness Coach®

Start Strong, Finish Successful: The 4 Best Ways to Set Financial Goals For The New Year

As we approach the turn of the year, it's the perfect time to prayerfully reflect on the past year, set meaningful goals for the future, and trust them to the Lord. Jeremiah 17:7 (NIV) says, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” Whether your primary goal is to save more, reduce debt, buy a home, advance your education, or simply gain better control over your finances, this article is your starting place for setting and achieving financial goals in the coming year. And remember–we are here to help you every step of the way. Crusaders for Change (C4C) offers personal financial counseling and coaching to liberate individuals and couples from the stress that comes with personal debt.

Ready to make your money dreams a reality with a step-by-step plan? We'll help you take a close look at where you are with your money now. No need for fancy terms—just understanding what's coming in, what's going out, and what you owe. Then, we'll guide you to pick what's most important to you. Maybe it's saving for a cool new thing, paying off the money you owe, or getting ready for something big. And the secret? Turning these goals into a clear plan by making them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and setting a Time to finish. Simple steps, big results! Ready to start your new year off in the right direction? Let's go!

1. Reflect on Your Current Financial State

Before you can set realistic goals, it's important to assess your current financial situation. Take a close look at your income, expenses, savings, and debts, and write everything down on one sheet. Leave no stone unturned! You need to be able to see the reality of the situation in one, easy-to-read place. This self-awareness is the foundation for creating achievable financial goals. 

2. Define Your Financial Priorities

Consider what truly matters to you. Is it saving for a new home, paying off credit card debt, starting a family, or taking that dream vacation? Prioritizing your goals helps you allocate your resources effectively. Write down the top two or three goals you want to achieve in the new year.

3. Set SMART Goals

Now that you have a realistic idea of your current financial situation, and you have two or three solid financial priorities, it’s time to make realistic goals so you can work toward your financial priorities. 

Make your financial goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). For instance, instead of saying, "I want to save more," you could set a SMART goal like, "I will save $5,000 for a down payment on a house by December 31st." Here are some more examples of turning vague goals into SMART goals:

  • Vague Goal: "I want to spend less money."

  • SMART Goal: "I will reduce my monthly discretionary spending (the money you have left over after paying for necessities such as rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, etc.) by $200 by the end of March 2024."

  • Vague Goal: "I want to pay off my debt."

  • SMART Goal: "I will pay off $3,000 of credit card debt within the next six months by paying $500 toward it monthly."

  • Vague Goal: "I want to start saving for the future."

  • SMART Goal: "I will contribute $200 per month to my retirement account starting next month."

  • Vague Goal: "I want to have an emergency fund."

  • SMART Goal: "I will save $1,000 in my emergency fund within the next three months."

  • Vague Goal: "I want to increase my income."

  • SMART Goal: "I will apply for at least five higher-paying job positions within the next two months."

  • Vague Goal: "I want to control my impulse purchases."

  • SMART Goal: "I will limit my impulse purchases to one per month, each under $50, for the next six months."

Remember, the key is to be specific and set a timeframe with these goals. Make sure the goal is realistic and relevant to your overall financial abilities. Writing down the specifics of a goal or even identifying which goals are most important can be frustrating and difficult. You are not alone and you shouldn’t have to do it alone! We’d love to talk about your goals with you and help you to make them a reality. Schedule a free clarity call with us!

4. Create an Action Plan

Now that you have your SMART Goals, it’s time to break your goals into smaller, manageable steps in order to make them less daunting. For example, if your goal is to save $5,000 by the end of the year, outline a monthly savings plan and monitor your progress regularly. 

How Do You Know if You Will Actually Stick to Your New Financial Goals?

Consult a Crusaders for Change (C4C) Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) for personalized guidance and accountability throughout the year. We can help you make informed financial decisions and navigate budgeting. Regular meetings to review your financial goals and track your progress are a proven method of success to stick to your goals and reach them by the end of the year! 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12b (NIV) says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” It’s a wonderful thing to celebrate your achievements along the way with someone who truly cares and knows how much hard work and dedication you put into achieving your goals. Schedule the free clarity call with a C4C Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) today.

Setting and achieving financial goals is a powerful way to take control of your financial future. With the right planning, support, and commitment, you can move closer to financial security, whether building an emergency fund, paying off debt, investing for retirement, or fulfilling a lifelong dream. Remember, starting with clear goals, taking consistent actions, and adapting as needed are key. The new year is a fresh opportunity to build a brighter financial future for yourself.

Start your journey toward financial success and make the coming year the best one yet for your finances.


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