Once upon a time I wanted:
- A house
- Dogsledding team
- Fully-funded retirement account…at age 35
- Trips around the world
- A new Toyota Tacoma
- To get my PhD
- Airplane lessons
- Guitar lessons
- To win the Iditarod
- To be fluent in French
- A private island
- To be fluent in German
- An ambulance
- To be fluent in Finnish
- To be an award-winning wildlife biologist
You get the idea. I want a lot of things.
You know what I didn’t want, though?
Subway sandwiches and cheeseburgers every day for lunch. Yet, somewhere along the way my dining out habits were getting in the way of me reaching my true goals without even realizing it.
I found this out when I looked at my current spending patterns from the last post. I was spending over $800/month on dining out and I didn’t even know it!
Related: I cut my crazy dining out bill by switching to MyFreezeasy meal plans. I use these like all the time dudes!
Did you find any surprises too? I bet you did—it’s easy to let things get out of hand when you don’t have anything to reign them in like out-of-control cats.
If your current spending patterns are way out of whack too, don’t fret! I’ll show you how you can go about identifying what your real financial goals are so that you can ultimately live the life you want. Because cheeseburgers are great, but can they compare to a round-the-world trip? Methinks not.
Step 1: Brainstorm A List Of Goals
This is the fun part. Put on your favorite upbeat music, grab a couple sheets of plain white paper, and set a timer for ten minutes.
Now, write down a list of all your future goals, financial or otherwise. Why? Because everything comes down to money, and even if it’s something like “Save Endangered Animals,” you still can’t do that without money in the bank. Ask me how I know (I’m an out-of-work wildlife biologist).
The world is yours for the picking here; choose whatever you want. Travel? Retire early? Become the world’s largest dealer of pogo sticks? Let your freak flag fly. I’m not one to judge. I like to order mushroom pizzas, pick off the mushrooms, and eat the pizza and the mushrooms separately. I’m a weirdo too. Welcome.
Make sure you write big and legibly. This isn’t the time to practice your writing-on-a-grain-of-rice skills. We’ll be cutting these up later, and you don’t want a handful of miniscule ribbons. We’re not making confetti here, guys.
Here are some facts to occupy you while you think:
- 80% of Americans are in debt
- 30% of Americans don’t have any retirement savings
- 53% of Americans aren’t happy with their jobs
- 41% of Americans wouldn’t be able to cover a $500 emergency without going into debt
Step 2: Rank Your Goals
Now that you’ve got a list of goals, take a pair of scissors and cut each one so it’s on its own piece of paper. Arrange each of these goals in an ordered list.
Ask yourself for each ranking: Would I be willing to sacrifice my lower-level goals for this one? Think long and hard. As the Rolling Stones once said, “you can’t always get what you want.” So, make sure the ones you want most of all are at the top. You likely won’t be able to do the ones at the bottom, and you have to be OK with that.
Step 2B: Compare Your Goals With Your Spouse
If you’re married or you have a partner, it’s important to get them to do this exercise too. After all, you’re working as a team.
When they’re done with their goals, compare your lists: how well do you match up?
Now, go through each of your goals and rank them together. You have to be on the same page as your significant other.
Otherwise, you’ll always be yanking your money around like two kids fighting over a cookie. No, it’s mine! No, you had one yesterday! No, it’s going to make you fat!
Step 3: Set Your Kick-Ass Financial Goals
Now that you’ve got an ordered list, pare it down to just a few goals, say 5 or so.
Here’s the kicker: your lower-level goals aren’t really goals at all. They’re distractions. They’re the things that are going to keep pulling you away from the things you really want to achieve most of all.
It sucks, I know, because I really want a house but I also want to buy lunch every day. Given the choice between the two, though, I’ll always pick the house.
Step 4: Ready…Aim…Fire! Shoot For Your Financial Goals
Now that we know where we’re heading, it’s time to make a plan to get there. We’ll do this over the next several steps.
As we make our budgets, it’s always important to keep our financial goals in mind. If we don’t, we’ll always be running around in circles. Not that that’s bad, but sometimes I get dizzy and puke on my friends. No one wants that.
Hooray! You just finished one of the most important steps in your adult, put-your-big-girl-panties-on life! How does it feel?
What Do I Do Next?
Congrats! This is the second post in my Budget Like A Boss series. For more info on how to set up a successful budget step-by-step, check out the other posts below:
- What Are Your Current Spending Patterns?
- Set Kick-Ass Financial Goals <- You are here!
- Create A Budget
- Track Your Spending
- Create A Badass Money Saving Plan
- Adjust Your Budget
What are some of your financial goals? Don’t be shy. Leave a comment below!