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Setting Short-, Medium- and Long-Term Financial Goals

Posted by : Premraj | Posted on : Saturday, March 14, 2020

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever procrastinated over dealing with your personal finances because you’re not exactly sure where to start.

OK, good — now that we all have our hands raised, let’s talk about how effective financial goal setting can help each of us get over that first hurdle.

It can be daunting to know you want to change and improve certain things about your financial situation without knowing exactly how to go about effecting that change. It helps to begin by clearly outlining your financial goals — including objectives for the short-, medium- and long-term. This simple step will help you better understand which actions to prioritize and create a realistic timeline for executing them.

These tips will help you get started.

Step One: Set Short-Term Goals

Short-term goals are all about what you can do right now and in the immediate future to set yourself up for success. While it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pull an extra $10,000 out of thin air, you can look at your finances where they currently stand and come up with a plan for the next couple months.

Here are the short-term goals Investopedia recommends for laying your financial foundation:

Create a budget: Go over all your income and expenditures with a fine-tooth comb. Analyze expenses by category and tighten spending where you can. Use a spreadsheet template or an app, depending on which tool you find most helpful for visualizing every aspect of your finances.

Build an emergency fund to serve as your buffer against, well, anything life can throw at you — like sudden vehicle repairs, vet bills for Fluffy, an emergency room visit, a layoff or travel costs for a funeral. You can use your new budget to come up with extra cash earmarked for this special savings account. Try to make monthly contributions until you’ve built up a solid stash of at least three months’ worth of living expenses.

Pay off your credit card debt: The sooner you devise a plan to pay off your credit card debt, the less you’ll pay in interest over the lifetime of the outstanding balance. For serious credit card debt, you may need to consider consolidation, debt management through a credit counseling agency or debt settlement through an organization like Freedom Debt Relief.

These short-term goals are akin to pouring the concrete of the foundation that’ll eventually support the “structure” of your overall financial standing.

 Step Two: Consider Medium-Term Goals

The good news is that medium-term goals tend to be the most fun. Why? Because they examine what you really want from life and how much it will cost to get there. You might dream of buying your first or second home, taking your dream vacation, saving up to afford a child or pet or any other number of worthy goals. This is the stage where you take your short-term progress and keep the momentum going. Saving and investing will become important during this stage — as will getting out of debt and raising your credit score.

 Step Three: Think About Your Long Game

Long-term goals typically center around saving for retirement. The reason you’re setting these goals now is so you can start putting away money sooner rather than later. Starting contributions to a retirement account even a few years earlier can lead to huge gains by the time you’re ready to stop working thanks to the immense power of compound interest.

Start saving as soon as humanly possible, whether your employer offers a 401(k) program or you have to start your own Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

Breaking down your financial goals into short-, medium- and long-term objectives will help you prioritize your actions and save for events both immediate and faraway.

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