15 Financial Goals to Strive For
A few weeks ago, J$ from Budgets Are Sexy published a post titled A Checklist of 15 Financial Goals to Hit. The post detailed a checklist of 15 financial goals, originally featured on Personal Finance Junkie, which you should strive to achieve by the time you reach 40 years old.
With the year winding down, it’s a perfect time to take a step back and evaluate where you’re at in your financial journey. Using these 15 financial goals is an effective way to give yourself a quick checkup, and ideally complete them in the near future.
#1. Build a starter emergency fund of $1,000. – YES
Building up a $1,000 emergency fund into a separate online savings account should be everyone’s first big financial goal. This helps provide stability to the rest of your finances.
#2. Organize your important financial information in a binder or eFile. – NO
Not even close to having this completed, definitely need to put this on the to-do list.
#3. Develop a monthly budget habit. – YES
We’re big believers in tracking your spending and having a monthly budget. We use Mint for ours, and it’s been a huge positive step in our financial situation.
#4. Pay off all your debts. – NO
We’re getting close and have made a ton of progress, but still have some debt left to pay off. In January 2016 we had $27,000 left of student loans, and we’re down to about $3,200 left! We also have $8,000 left on a car loan with a very low interest rate.
#5. Build a mid-level emergency fund of $10,000. – YES
This was a big priority for us since we live in a high cost of living area. We decided a $1,000 emergency fund wasn’t enough breathing room, so we built this up higher before shifting our focus towards paying down our debt.
#6. Cut your expenses. – YES
#7. Be aware of your credit score. – YES
We use Credit Karma to keep an eye on our credit scores. Free, easy, and reliable. Always good to keep an eye on this, especially with the recent Experian hack. I also have recently started getting into travel hacking, which makes it even more important to keep an eye on our credit scores.
#8. Earn extra income. – YES
I work a side hustle with a minor league baseball team, and my wife does some dog walking on the side. This extra income goes directly into our debt payoff efforts and savings. It’s always a good idea to bring in some extra income streams.
#9. Read the top personal finance books. – YES/NO
My dad challenged me to start reading investing books, so this year I’ll have completed 4 of the top personal finance books along with a handful of others. I still have plenty more to read, and will look to make more progress on my reading list in 2018.
#10. Automate your savings. – YES/NO
We automate our travel savings, but I also make manual transfers at the end of the month if we have extra in our checking account.
#11. Automate your bills. – YES
All our bills are automated, which I love. It keeps everything much simpler. I’d highly recommend implementing this in your own finances.
#12. Automate your investing. – YES
We automatically contribute to our 401k’s and I contribute to an ESPP, all automated.
#13. Write a 5 year financial plan. – NO
We discuss our goals for both the short-term and long-term, but I’ve never written them down. I’m not a big fan of the “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question, since so much can change in a short period of time. However, we do think it’s important to have an overarching goal that helps guide your decision making.
#14. Start maxing out your retirement accounts every year. – NO
My wife and I both currently contribute to our 401k’s and I contribute to an ESPP, but we haven’t maxed them out yet. This is a huge goal of mine to complete in the next few years. Achieving debt freedom will make this even more attainable. Right now we’re having to balance investing with paying off debt.
#15. Complete your emergency fund so you have at least 6 months’ expenses saved. – NO
We’ve been able to accumulate a good sized emergency fund into an online savings account, but we’re not up to 6 months worth of expenses yet.
Final Score: 9/15 – Overall I’m happy with this score and we should knock a few more of these out in the near future. We’re definitely on the right track.
Once you’ve gone through this checklist and figured out your own answers, use the information as motivation to spur your financial goals for 2018!