Got Money Goals + Life Goals? Use this Strategy to Catapult Your Results.
I love to take our 19-month old for walks.
Actually, it started when he was about two weeks old. I had just come out of the hospital recovering from a birth experience gone horribly wrong, which had resulted in a readmittance + 6 days away from my newborn and husband.
It was traumatic, painful, and something I've had to come to grips with over the last 19 months.
One day after being released from the second hospital round, I was walking hunched over from the C-Section and weakness of it all. But 18 days after? I decided that I needed to strap my newborn into our new stroller and walk him the entire path of my old running route.
That was 2 miles. *Gulp*.
And I did it. It made me feel strong. It made me feel hope that I would physically recover, and mentally be able to put the past two weeks behind me.
Our Wounded Warrior Walks Catapulted My Results
After questioning to myself whether I would ever get out of the hospital (8 days in), it showed me the resilience of the human body, and more importantly, the resilience of the human spirit. Mine had faltered greatly, and even though I'd like to say it was cured after that initial 2 mile-walk, I can at least say it was shown the path for how to eventually get there.
My husband, who served in the Navy for 7 years, wanted us to contribute to Wounded Warriors Project. We put it on the back burner, especially after all the unexpected hospital bills.
But then I realized that through the app Charity Miles, each time I logged a run (which meant I just had to open the app on my phone and the GPS would track how far I went, plus give credit), a donation would be made to Wounded Warriors Project.
You can bet this upped my walks big-time. Because far greater than the purpose of healing my own body, and getting my own self into shape, was donating to a cause at the same time.
That's when I realized what a powerful thing it is to attach something bigger than yourself onto any goal − money or otherwise − to catapult your results.
Ways to Make Your Money Goals Bigger than Yourself
If you want to catapult your own money goals + life goals + even those small day-to-day goals you're trying to improve upon, then make it about something bigger than yourself.
Here are some ways for you to do this:
- Put a Charitable Contribution on the Line: You can choose a charity like we did, and associate any progress you make towards the goal with helping this charity out. For example, use an app that will donate to the charity when you complete certain milestones. Or tack on a matching charitable contribution for when you reach your money goal yourself (i.e., you'll donate $200 to the charity that runs deep in your heart once you pay off Credit Card #1, or once you reach your target savings goal to go on vacation).
- Bring in the Whole Family On It: Make your goal bigger than itself by involving your whole family in it. Instead of just you trying to save $XXXX amount of dollars for something, or trying to keep yourself pumped up about paying off two credit cards by December, let your spouse and/or kids get pumped up with you.
- Write Out What Your Life Looks Like Post-Goal: Once you reach that money promised land post-goal, what is your life going to look like? What is the life of your loved ones going to look like? Write this down. This can cement the bigger vision in your head, which will give you something to focus on when the going gets tough and you'd rather get the kids in the car and go through Starbucks drive-thru for the 3rd time this week (..that might just be me talking now).
What is an Example of a Financial Goal – List of Financial Goals
Maybe you don't have a financial goal right now, and you're looking for a list of financial goals to kick-start your own.
You're in the right place!
Here are some cool financial goals for you to work towards (each of which, will set you up for a better financial future):
- Pay for your annual vacation week in cash
- Maximize your IRA contributions this year ($5,500/person)
- Pay for your child's tuition at a school/daycare/preschool you want them to attend
- Pay off one of your debts, entirely
- Pay off your entire mortgage before retirement
- Keep a buffer in checking so that you can stop juggling between paychecks
- Get out of student loan debt before your child starts school
- Fund your emergency fund to $3,000
- Fund your emergency fund to $6,000
- Fund your emergency fund to $10,000
- Save up enough money so that you can live for one year from it, if need be
- Start investing
- Sign up for your employer's 401(k) and contribute enough to get maximum matching contribution from them
- Pay off your credit card, and use it only for emergencies from here on out
- Come up with a retirement plan
- Find an extra $150/month by cutting out expenses
- Get a raise
- Meet a financial incentive from your employer's health insurance wellness program
- Donate a percentage of income to a charity you're passionate about, on autopilot
- Tithe 10% of your income
- Save up for a lush, 10-year anniversary trip to Italy
- Start a 529 plan for your child's education
How to Set Money Goals — a Trick
I have found that both the weekend and the weekday are very important in the process of first finding and then meeting financial goals (and life goals).
During the weekends, I explore. During the weekdays, I incorporate.
In a typical week I work, I exercise, I take vitamins, there are a set of shows my husband and I love to watch together, we clean, we check our financial accounts, watch the news, run errands, pay bills, and cook.
On weekends we do hardly any of these; we do not watch the news, we run few errands, we do not pay bills, and there’s no cleaning (except dishes). I even stop taking my vitamins! Cooking is different on the weeknights versus weekends as well. I will try out new recipes more often on a weekend, and tend to stick to tried-and-true favorites during the weekdays (though I must admit my husband cooks more often than I do).
In my life, this setup of separating out the feel of the weekend from the feel of the week allows for both the creation of financial goals as well as the implementation of them.
On weekends I have the space to daydream beyond the confines of current routines and current possibilities, stretching our normal financial boundaries (be they physical boundaries or mental ones). This is the case during vacations as well. When we vacate from our normal lives, we have new ideas and suddenly the world seems a lot bigger. For example, during the week while I am more pragmatic I may think that taking a trip to Alaska would be out of our price range and comfort zone. But if I have this same thought on the weekend, the excitement of the idea would allow me to brainstorm and dream further without being bogged down by the reality of details and execution.
As the week approaches, I can then take this idea of ours and start to incorporate it into our lives. Using the Alaska example, during the week I may take an excel sheet and do some research on the internet to figure out an estimated cost for the trip. Then I can start figuring out how long we will need to save for it. By breaking the dream down into smaller details that are more palatable, and then working towards the financial goal week by week, the dream that I had one weekend now becomes a reality. If I had the same grand idea during a workweek in between writing a report and filling the car up with gasoline, I might not have been too open to the idea and we may never have enjoyed our Alaska trip.
This is not to say that I do not dream on weekdays, or that I do not take care of details on weekends. This is also not to say that weekdays are boring and weekends are ‘where it’s at’; quite the contrary. Without weekdays our dreams may not be accomplished, and without weekends we may never take the time in between our busy lives to ever dream at all.
If you’ve had some financial ideas that came up while in the middle of your own routine and you quickly squashed them as impossible or implausible, try thinking about them again on a weekend. Take out a pad of paper (paper with no lines is best — think about shunning all conventions and restraints when you daydream and brainstorm) and just write down whatever comes to mind with no judgments at all. It can be very difficult at first to not judge the silliness that might pop out of your head once you give it some space. But it can also be a lot of fun. Paul and I are currently in the brainstorming/dreaming stage of figuring out what our goals are moving forward. We’ve had financial goals in the past that were easy to come up with: pay off our non-mortgage debt, put a down payment on a home, pay for our wedding and honeymoon in cash. Now that we’ve met these goals, we’ve realized that we don’t have new ones moving forward. Where do we wish to be 5, 10, 15 years from now? What financial goal do we want to accomplish but are too scared to say out loud?
Feed these goals and dreams of yours with both the weekend and the weekday. It’s very important to keep dreaming about them, and it is equally as important to incorporate them into your weekly routine. Without one or the other, the dream could die.
The One-Tweak Challenge
I remember the time I stumbled upon my first personal finance blog ever.
I can't remember the subject of the article, and I can't even remember how I found it. BUT, I do remember complete delight in the robust comments section. I scrolled for hours, deliciously reading while people revealed one of the most personal things in life: their money digits.
Who owed them money and never paid them back, where they spent their paychecks, how much they were saving and on what salary, etc.
It was addictive.
In the months following I bounced around to any personal finance blogs I could find, soaking in money makeover, taking in tons of information that had been out of reach in most of the conversations I'd had during my life.
I mean, people don't normally splat out their digits, right? Especially not before blogging came around, anyway.
Psst: J. Money over at Rockstar Finance has compiled the ultimate blogger net worth list in case you're crazy interested in being a digital fly on the wall. Nope, you won't find mine on there. I'm still not ready to give that info up!
In other words, I became a Personal Finance (PF) article junkie.
PF Article Junkies: I'm Issuing You the One-Tweak Challenge
I love discovering new blogs of people talking about their finances, and peruse the hundreds of comments of people who share their own experiences with money.
It's fascinating. It's eye-opening.
And yes…it's a little indulgent.
But the other day, I thought to myself: what would happen to my finances if I made one tweak from every PF article I take the time to read?
Over the course of a year, even if I only read 20 articles, that would mean making 20 tweaks to my finances.
Do you know where I might be just one year from now if I did that? A total money makeover, DIY style.
Here's the thing − I started doing just that all those years ago when I stumbled across that blog. And it changed not only my finances, but my life.
So now I'm asking you: could you commit to making one tweak to your finances for every PF article that you read? What might your DIY money makeover look like if you did?
I'm so grateful that I stumbled into learning this life lesson, and wanted to pass it along to you in case your own money goals need a little wind under their sails. Making your money goal bigger than itself, bigger than you, is going to catapult your results. Not only that, but the sweetness of your progress grow exponentially when there are bigger things at stake.
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