How to Set Up (And Actually Achieve!) Your Family and Financial Goals

Today we’ll go over key steps on how to make and achieve your big family financial goals for next year! 

Set Your Family Up for Big Wins

As 2021 winds down, now is a great time to set up some pieces with your finances so you can knock things out of the ballpark in 2022. 

Last week I went into how we’ve done year end reviews. They’ve been a wonderful way for us to get a snapshot of the progress we made and identify areas where we may want to adjust. 

Most of the numbers reviewed are automated. There are some fantastic options out there like Personal Capital, Mint, Tiller, and You Need a Budget that can pull the numbers from your accounts into one neat dashboard. 

However a year end review is just that – a review. If we want to level up for the next year, we have to have some blueprint or plan. 

Here’s where it’s key for us to create our family financial goals. They give us a guide on how to allocate or prioritize our money for the year. 

Today I want to walk you through some critical parts of that process so you can craft a game plan for next year and beyond. 

In this episode, we’re going to look at how you can tackle some major hurdles families have with creating and reaching their financial goals. We’ll discuss:

  • Creating better family and financial goals by taking the three most popular money goals families set and turning them into SMART goals
  • Crafting a plan so you develop key habits that make it easier to hit your goals
  • Finding time to adopt these new habits and systems

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

Key Resources to Help You Change Your Habits

Looking to reset a few things to get some family and financial wins this year?  Here are some fantastic resources to help you! 

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

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Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

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Creating Better Family and Financial Goals

As I mentioned last week, one of the ways we sabotage ourselves with money goals is how we make them. 

The top financial goals people make for the year are:

  1. Save more
  2. Pay down debt
  3. Spend less

It makes sense, depending on where you are on your financial journey. 

As you can see, these particular goals fail in a few ways. They’re really vague which can lead to some problems.

How will you know you’ve accomplished it? How are you going to save/pay down?

Instead you want to make SMART goals. As a quick review, SMART is an acronym on how you can effectively frame your goals. 

A smart goal is specific, measurable, attainable, results, focus, and time base.

What do I mean by that? 

  • Specific: You don’t want to save more. You want to set up your emergency fund or your travel fund.
  • Measurable: You want to have $5,000 in your savings account or you need three months of essential expenses. 
  • Attainable: This is not a moon shot, but it’s something you can actually accomplished (provided you put the work in)
  • Results: What’s the result of you hitting your goal? What personal or family win will you have?
  • Time-Based: When do you want to accomplish this? This is handy because you can then work backward and set up how much you need to save or pay off each month. 

The point of it is that you have a mini-game plan already set up for how you’re going to actually achieve that goal. 

Another benefit to laying out SMART goals is that you get a sense of whether or not you're working on too many things. Very quickly, you’ll notice the numbers aren’t working out. 

You can then decide to either push back a deadline for a goal or two. 

Let’s take those three financial goals and turn them into SMART ones. 

  • Save more -> We want to have $7,000 set aside in our emergency fund by October 1.
  • Pay down debt -> We want to eliminate our store credit card debt of $2,700 by May 31.
  • Spend less -> We want to cut back our monthly eating out expenses from $300 to $100 by July 31. 

When you have time, sit down and discuss the goals that you’d like to accomplish and turn them into smart goals!  

Better Habits and Systems

Having goals is fantastic and one of the best ways you can achieve your goals is by making sure that your habits are shifted in that direction.

I admit that's easier said than done, but it is possible.

Before we can talk about shifting habits. Let's just take a quick step back and define what a habit is.

In essence, a habit is something that you do almost automatically. And if you had to break it down, There are three key components to it. The queue. The routine and the reward

Whether we see ourselves this way or not, the truth is many of us are ready habit forming machines.

Don't believe me? Looking at your day, you may find that many of the routines that you do on a daily basis or a weekly basis. Uh, our habits.

In fact, a study was done at duke university and researchers there found that over 40% of the activities we do on a daily basis. Is a habit. It is possible to change and adjust your habits.

Based on your goals and your circumstances.

The key is working on those three components of a habit. The cue routine and the reward. So with the queue, that's your trigger for the behavior.

For many of us time, is that trigger? Your alarm goes off, you get up. And you get started on your routine.

Location can also be a trigger as you are logging into the office, whether that's at home or you had to commute for it, you may have a routine already set up, you log in and you check your email.

The next part is the routine, which is the actual habit that you're doing. In this case, like we mentioned getting up, getting dressed for work or checking your email.

Finally, there's a reward, which is your payoff for accomplishing that habit.

To effectively change those habits. You have to change those components in it.

In his book, the power of habit, New York times, reporter Charles Duhigg gave an example of the afternoon snack at work.

Instead of going for the processed foods or whatever's in the vending machine, you swap out that stack for something else could be apple and peanut butter, some other fresh fruits, whatever you prefer.

Here you're subtly shifting that happen because the queue is still the same. It's the afternoon you want to get up? You want to socialize? And have a snack. The habit is different because now you're choosing something different, something better for your health.

But then the reward is also the same. You still get to catch up with your colleagues. And so that habit shift feels subtle but it can make a huge difference over time.

So that's a high level view of how you can shift and change your habits.

Now a challenge that a lot of people have. Is that we want to fix it. All right. Maybe we have several goals that we want to achieve, not just with finances, but with our health around the house. This overwhelm and lack of making progress can make you quit.

One of the best ways you can avoid burnout. Is by choosing and focusing on one, maybe two habits at a time. Once you get those habits into place then you can move on to the next one.

So which one or two goals should you focus on? With your goal, what are the one or two habits that can have a significant impact on that?

This ties back into why we do those reviews. With our finances we can see, is there a pattern? Is there an area that we need a little bit of extra effort on to make that progress. Is it us eating out too much? Is it a matter of us needing to bring up our income? Or could we optimize our expenses so we can knock out a certain debt?

These discussions we have doing our reviews give us a better and clearer picture of which habits would have a significant impact.

As you're reviewing your goals, see if you can break down a little bit further. What task or habits you need to have to make it easier to be successful with this goal?

Laying these pieces in place helps you build a system to push through some of the difficulties that will probably come up during the year and make it more likely that you'll reach your goals.

Finding More Time for Your Goals

It would be wonderful if we all could have an infinite time to work on our goals. The reality is we have to find and in many cases create time to do the work and make progress. 

As a work from home parent with two kids doing remote learning this year, it’s practically a necessity to have some rhythm or system in place so I can get stuff done. 

Here’s what has been critical help along the way. 

Time Blocking/Bullet Journal

I need a visual representation of my schedule and for me. While I do have digital reminders set up for a few items, I’ve found having a paper copy works best. Specifically, I like to use a hybrid of the bullet journal/time blocking. 

I’ll include links to resources if you want to do a deep dive, but for me the big benefit is how it helps me focus during the day and allows me to handle my goals in bite sized chunks.  

Define Your MIT

Like we mentioned with habits, some are more impactful than others. Not everything that comes up in your day is going to move the needle with your family and financial goals. 

It is very easy to get bogged down with urgent tasks that pop up, but don’t really add any value. It’s crucial to set aside time and plan things out so that you’re taking care of the most important tasks. Because I’m a morning person, I try to work those early into the day. 

Use the GAP Method

One method I found helpful with planning my schedule is GAP. It’s something I picked up from entrepreneur and productivity expert Matt Ragland

GAP stands for Goals, Action, Protect and how it works is….well, here’s how Matt explains it.

The first thing to do is to preview your week. I use the acronym gap to plan my week and that is specifying, what are my goals for this week?

The action steps that support those goals and then when do I need to protect time, block time in order to make sure that I have the time to take action on those tasks?

Design Your Most Productive Week Ever

I love this because you’re breaking down your goal into pieces. Let’s say you want to get back to a healthier weight. 

You identified some tasks that can make a big difference including, an area you need to improve – prepping your meals. 

You can set aside mornings or the evening before to prepare your lunch ahead of time. It’s been blocked out. 

You may want to make it more enjoyable by playing your favorite podcast in the background while you assemble your meals. It’s a doable way to make progress on your big goals. 

Organize Your Environment and Schedule

Finally, I’ve discovered that when I set up my environment properly, things go so much more smoothly. 

Working out? Go and have your clothes and equipment ready.

Writing? Have journal or laptop setup.

Going on your money date? Pull the numbers ahead of time using an app or spreadsheet.

There's this quote that's attributed to Bruce Lee that I think it captures what I hope you get out of this episode.

Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.

– Bruce Lee

I want you to try the tips that make the most sense for you and incorporate it into your own system.

At the end of the day, it's not just about hitting those goals, but also having time to learn, grow and do the things you enjoy!

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Music Credit

Music in this episode was provided by artists from Audiio.

Photo by Miriam Alonso from Pexels

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