Setting Financial Goals: Back to the Future

Everybody needs financial goals. Right?  Right. What are yours? It could be to have a nice nest egg by the time you retire, provide for your child’s education, care for your parents in their old age, travel the world. But wait, these seem more like goals. They are and they are indeed inexplicably tied with your current and future earnings. In fact how you plan today, will make a massive difference on how you live in the future. Not planning and just taking each day as it comes may sound the way to go, but is a sure fire recipe for failure.

First the fundamentals… Separate fact from fiction. You need to be clear about your key goals and prioritize them. If you want to save for retirement but are not saving anything and spending on expensive dinners and clothes, its time you did a reality check. Keep a tab on your current earnings, living expenses and then arrive at realistic financial goals. Start off with a basic savings goal. Ensure you save this money in your savings account or financial instrument of your choice before you spend. This is a realistic step towards achieving your financial goal of a retirement fund. Next, priorities… Do you need to socialize every weekend? Can you spend some time cooking dinner for yourself or having potluck. Money saved could be used to clear previous debt and not accumulate new ones. It could also mean you could use your credit card for emergencies.

Learn more about your goals. Say you want to help your child become a designer. You probably need to invest in art classes, plan visits to museums or art schools. All of this falls outside the purview of regular school. Be sure to add these expenses to that financial goal. Look at saving instruments that help you earn good returns in the long run, for example, mutual funds. Try and get an understanding, however preliminary, what are the steps in becoming a professional and how much it would cost at each stage, by talking to a design professional. Do meet with a financial planner and see how you can achieve this goal.

A basic step towards realizing financial goals is to list them down and decide how much you need to start saving for each. Some may be very short-term goals (like art classes). Others may be medium-term and some long-term. Split the goal into these categories and plan accordingly.

Review your financial goals and their progress from time to time. This will help you assess if you are on track or not.

Strengthen the foundation on which of your goals are going to be achieved. If your today’s finances are in disarray, get them in order now. Review your current financial status. Make corrections. Then plan and implement your financial goals of tomorrow.

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