Written by Rachael DeLeon, Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education® (AFCPE®)
“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you'll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.” - Meredith Willson
How often have you found yourself saying, “I’ll start tomorrow”? Or, I’ll start on Monday. Then tomorrow comes, and your start date gets pushed back again. And again. And again. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
It’s easy to set a goal, but if that goal requires a behavior change – and especially a delay in gratification, it can be hard to get started – and even more difficult still – to finish. Research even shows that when we work to achieve our long-term goals, we are not only fighting our willpower, but also our biology.1
So where do you start? Make a Plan! It’s as easy as 1-2…10. Your future self will thank you!
Tip 1: Set a goal – a life goal.
That’s right, financial goals are life goals. Setting goals helps you prioritize how you use your money, so it goes toward what matters to you. Setting goals also helps to measure and track your progress toward achieving your hopes and dreams. So, take a step back and visualize that life goal.
Tip 2: Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T.
Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Rewarding. Time-Bound. FINRA Foundation does a great job in breaking this down at saveandinvest.org and even offers a useful worksheet to help you get started.
Curious about tips 3 – 10. Together with Bank of America, Garrett Planning Network, FINRA Foundation, NAPFA, and XYPN, we put together a great interactive toolkit with useful tips to get you started on the path to saving with a plan. Click here to access the toolkit.
Need support? It’s okay to ask for help.
Managing your money can be complicated and feel personal. Thankfully, there are many qualified professionals to help you at every stage of your financial journey, from financial educators to financial counselors and coaches, to financial planners and therapists. Make sure the individual has a nationally-recognized credential like the AFC® or CFP®.
During America Saves Week, Savers who take the pledge will have the opportunity to connect with an AFC® (Accredited Financial Counselor®) for free financial counseling, education, and support to help you reach your goals.
For servicemembers and veterans – support is closer than you think. Did you know, there is a financial readiness professional on staff at nearly every military installation throughout the world, where you can access free financial counseling and education? Reach out to your Personal Financial Counselor (PFC) or Personal Financial Manager (PFM). Military Saves Week is a great time to start!