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When it comes to your financial security and ensuring your financial wellbeing one of the best and most effective ways to do this is by setting yourself financial goals. The reasoning behind this is quite simple, if you haven’t got a goal in mind then you will not be working toward anything and this can ultimately result in overspending.
While this might seem perfectly viable especially if you are living within your means, what happens when an unexpected bill comes in? Or how do you deal with a financial emergency you had not anticipated? What about your retirement? If you do not have financial goals you could be leaving yourself financially vulnerable both now and in your future.
So to help protect your finances and financial future here are some ways in which you can set, and importantly meet, your financial goals.
Set short, medium and long term goals.
When it comes to goal setting, start with breaking your goals down into short, medium and long term goals. Goals are always easier to reach and more attainable when they are specific and can be measured in terms of timing.
Short term goals
Your short-term goals should be measured in six months to three years and are generally the easiest to map out. You may want to pay for your next holiday, save for a downpayment on a home, pay off a credit card or buy a new car. Remember, however, when it comes to goal planning, plan for the boring stuff too. It is a good idea to include an emergency fund in your short term goals, for example, if your boiler breaks or you lose your job.
Medium-term goals can be anything from three to ten years. They should extend beyond the immediately foreseeable and are the stepping stone between your immediate financial aims and your longer-term ambitions. Medium-term goals could include steps such as paying off a student loan or finance agreement, upping your savings pot or starting and increasing your investment portfolio.
Long term goals
Long term goals are anything attainable in over ten years and through to retirement. The most common long-term financial goals are to pay off your mortgage and plan for your retirement. It is never too early to start doing so. A great rule of thumb is to dedicate 10% of your paycheck to your retirement fund as soon as your employment commences.
Short term goals; Set a budget
Once you have mapped out your goals you can now start budgeting. Budgeting is one of the best ways to ensure you meet your goals as it allows you to effectively allocate your spending. Typically speaking, budgeting is better suited to the shorter-term goals. Look at your monthly income and expenditure and highlight what expenses are critical, necessary, and additional extras. Are there any expenses you can cut from your monthly expenditure? Can you redirect your funds to your financial goals and saving aims? You may have to make some sacrifices but once you have met or significantly dented your shorter-term goals it makes planning for and realising your medium and longer-term goals that much easier.
Medium and long term goals; Consider your options
When it comes to your medium to long-term goals setting a budget is unlikely to suffice in isolation. Yes, you can ferret away some of your income into a retirement fund but piling up the cash in a checking account may not be the savviest way to maximise your finances. Here are some of the options you may want to consider to help invest your money and realise your medium and longer-term goals.
- Property. Saving up enough money for a down payment to invest in either your residential property or a second rental property could prove to be an incredibly lucrative and financially stable way to grow your capital and estate. Property can require a large initial start up and take several years to see the financial return but it is a longer-term investment that could see you safeguarded in your later years.
- Stocks and shares. The stock market is another tried and tested method that many financially savvy investors will utilise. You can use the stock market in a variety of ways for both longer and shorter-term investments. It can be an excellent way to increase your capital. That said, be sure that you do your due diligence and fully understand the market as it can be just as easy to decrease your worth. Take advantage of all of the resources available to protect your assets. The markets can be a volatile place so utilise tools such as tradingview email to SMS to keep you apprised of changes and investments secure.
- The professionals. If you are too cautious to invest or do not have the time or capital to plough into the property then consider handing over your resources to professional financial advisors. This will cost you as you will have to pay for their services but as with any high-quality service you get what you pay for and the returns could well be worth the fees you pay. Just be sure to do your due diligence on your professionals and be sure you feel comfortable with who is investing your money and how they are doing it.
- Overpay on your mortgage. If your mortgage allows for it without incurring financial penalties and you have the means to do so consider overpaying on your monthly mortgage payments. Your mortgage is incurring interest and the longer you have it and the more you owe the more interest you will have to pay. The more you pay over and above the minimum monthly requirement the more you will eat into your mortgage and the less interest you have to pay. Paying off your mortgage will free up a huge chunk of your monthly budget so the sooner it is paid the more financially free you will be.
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