4 easy steps to setting THE BEST financial goals (with examples)

This is the year. The year everything changes. This is the year I will make new year resolutions and stick to them. We’re talking short-term financial goals. We’re talking long-term financial goals. We’re talking ALL the financial goals. 

Ever heard yourself say that? Probably last year and the year before. 

Those years don’t count! 

This year you’ll look at your old financial goals, decide they were lame, and come up with some better ones. 

This year you’ll change your habits.

This year you’ll bust through excuses.  

This year, you have a secret weapon. You have a stealth agent who’ll give you some major motivation, at least when it comes to your money goals. 

So follow these 4 easy steps, and read through the extra resources to go more in-depth. And then leave me a comment and tell me about your new year’s resolutions when it comes to money. 

1. Have a BIG financial goal

Well Duh. Isn’t that what New Year Resolutions are all about? But here’s the trouble with goals.

Most goals sound good and noble and worthy but they will put you straight to sleep! 

They’re the goals your parents came up with for you, or you learned about in a goal-setting workbook. At the very least, they’re the goals that you came up with when you were “trying to come up with good goals”. 

They might even be “SMART”… But honestly, they do nothing for your money motivation. They’re not the type of goals you’d change your behavior for. 

Straight up, you’re not going to achieve ANYTHING if you don’t have a big financial goal to look forward to. Something that gets you fired up. Something so big that it seems unachievable. 

Sound counterintuitive? Maybe. But how else are you going to get excited enough to bust through your excuses and change your habits? 

financial goals
Are you THIS excited for your financial goals? If not, you’re going for the wrong goal!

Let’s look at a few noble financial goal examples that most people don’t achieve:

Have an emergency fund?

Is it important? Yes. Does it get you excited? Probably not. (Not for 95% of the population anyway.) 

I’m not advocating against having an emergency fund, I’m just being realistic. This goal is not very likely to motivate you. 

What about this instead?

Save up for a downpayment on a rental property to have perpetual cash flow, but also have money in liquid investments in case of emergency. 

Now that’s a big goal to get you motivated! 

Start a retirement account?

Do you know what you want to do in 30+ years? If you don’t, then how are you supposed to save up for it? And more importantly… How are you supposed to be motivated by it? 

long-term financial goals - retirement

What about this? 

Have enough money going into my investments so that I can drop my job whenever I feel like?

Or even:

Save up enough money to start a business in five years. 

Does that get you a little more motivated to change your habits? Hell yeah! 

Save up for a car?

So you can upgrade your ride to work. 

How about:

Save up to get a degree and upgrade your job. 

The thing about BIG financial goals…

It will be different for everybody. 

It just has to drive you. If it doesn’t drive you it’s not big enough or it’s just not yours. It’s a goal someone else came up with for you. 

I know people who are driven by having a nice big stockpile of cash.

I know people who are driven by the dream of starting a company. 

I know people who are driven by their desire to see the world. 

Those people will do what it takes because they’re driven by something. If you have wishy-washy goals, you’ll have wishy-washy results. 

If you have BIG goals. You’ll have BIG results. 

My big dream:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. My dream is to travel around the world with my family when they’re old enough to know what’s going on, but young enough that they’re not missing school. To do that, I need:

  • Money to not work
  • Money for the trip

I probably need other things too, but none of it will be possible without the money. So that’s what motivates the hell out of me right now. 

Also read:
My Money Motivation and being the LeBron of FIRE

How to become a millionaire in 5 years with a normal income

So what’s your big goal? Once you have it, follow this plan: 

2. Train yourself to SAVE MORE

There is not a single scenario that can’t be improved by being a better saver. Seriously, can you think of one? 

The action of saving more is simple. You have to put more money towards your big goal. And to do that you can either: 

Option A: Increase your income 

Some people will see this and think “Ha! Easier said than done”. But those people don’t have a big financial goal yet. 

And I’m not talking about increasing your hours or taking on a second job. 

If you commit to increasing your income, all of a sudden you’ll start to see opportunities you haven’t considered before, or things you thought of as sacrifices won’t feel like sacrifices anymore. 

For starters, you can: 

  • Ask for a raise or find out what it will take to get a promotion
  • Upgrade your skills to get a better position

And if you have a dead-end job, you can:

  • Freelance your skills for some extra cash
  • Find where else you can have an additional stream of income (like rent out your basement, your parking space, or whatever else might be rentable.) 

A lot of these will require an investment, but again. When you commit to a big goal, it’s worth it. 

Option B: Decrease your spending

short-term financial goals - saving

A lot of us are guilty of mindless spending. 

In fact, after paying my credit card bills last month, I realized that I – a money blogger – have gone a little overboard with Christmas spending this year. 

It’s okay. Just take that mindless spending and make it mindful. Always compare it to your big financial goal. When you have your big goal in front of you, cutting down on spending will be easy. 

Start with something easy, like stop eating out or cancel some subscriptions. Move into medium, like refinance your mortgage, and then go all in – like get rid of your car. 

Sound drastic? Not when you compare it to your big goal, it’s not! 

You may be thinking, I can’t do any of those things! I can’t stop eating out because I have no time to cook, I can’t cancel Netflix because my kids love it, I can’t refinance my mortgage because I just signed it, and I can’t get rid of my car because I love it too much. 

In other words, excuses. 

I’m not saying that there are only 4 ways to save money, I just want you to ask yourself, where are you mindlessly spending money that you could be putting towards your dream. 

Read More:
My entire How to Save section has everything from saving money on childcare to saying NO to spendy friends.

(Including why everyone does “frugal living” wrong)

3. Start Investing if you haven’t already 

If you’re already a master investor, then skip this part. But if you’re not investing, what’s your excuse? 

Excuse 1: I don’t know how. 

Listen. You have to start somewhere. You don’t want to reach your eighties with regrets. Are you someone who goes for your dreams or are you someone who sits out and watches everyone else go for it? 

Read more: Simple investing for beginners

Excuse 2: I’ll get around to it next year. 

Ever heard of compound interest? Even a couple of years of a head start could mean millions more in the bank. The best decision you can ever make is to start now

Excuse 3: The economy is all wrong right now. 

Who told you that? The market is always wrong. Everyone’s always screaming and freaking out. It’s their job to make it look harder than it is. Sitting out is the only bad decision you can make. 

financial goals - investing

Read more: Investing during a recession – 5 steps to make it stress-free

Excuse 4:  I don’t have money to make it worthwhile 

It’s actually better to start when you don’t have a lot of money. You get to master the learning curve when the stakes aren’t as high. Besides, there are other ways to invest small sums of money for BIG returns. 

Read more: How to invest at each wealth level from $1K to $10M

Excuse 5: I need that money for something else right now

You always will. You have to forcefully find a way to invest in your dreams. It doesn’t happen by itself. You have to make the commitment. 

Read more: 3 Most Lucrative Ways to spend your stimulus check.

4. Get into BIG investing 

What’s big investing? 

I love my simple index funds and all, but at some point it makes sense to spread out and try new things. 

Personally, I’ve invested in rental properties. Lots and lots of them. But I’m always learning about the next thing. Currently, I’m eyeing some apartment buildings. I’m not there yet, but I’m soaking in everything I can so that I can make an informed move as soon as I’m ready. 

You should be doing the same thing. Even if you’re not ready to make the bigger investment moves, start learning. 

Read more:
Review of top 4 real estate investing courses (with special discounts)
How to invest like a multi-millionaire
Crowdfunded real estate investing. Plus top eREITs


And now I’d love to hear about your big goal and what excuses you’re prepared to bust through this year. 

Happy 2021! 



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