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10 Great Reasons Why You Should Make Short-term Financial Goals

10 Great Reasons Why You Should Make Short-term Financial Goals

We all have at least a vague idea of long­term financial goals that we’d love to achieve in the far-off future. But most of us have no concrete steps to achieving those long­term financial goals.

Really, most of us are just functioning from paycheck to paycheck and managing to stay static. That’s where short­term financial goals can help. Having a series of realistic short­term, relatively easy­to­achieve goals will help provide you the stones with which you can slowly build a bridge to those long­term goals. Short term goals are necessary to help keep you on track financially, moving forward consistently, and get you closer to achieving your bigger long­term goals.

Here are some of the 10 best benefits to implementing some short­-term financial goals into your life:

It’ll Help You Get Out of Debt

If you’re in debt, one of your long­term financial goals is probably to be fully free from debt and to stay out of it, right? But depending on how deeply in debt you are, that might not be a realistic short­-term financial goal for you.

However, the best way to get yourself out of debt is to start small, with some short-­term financial goals that you can tackle one at a time. The first step to setting up a short­-term goal for your debt situation should be to take a look at the damage.

Obviously, you’ll want to make those high­interest debts your main priority. Pay those off first, and then work on the lower­interest debts. Focusing on credit card debt (if you have it) is usually the most urgent need. Get that squared away, and you’ll…

  • Save money on expensive interest rate payments
  • Start improving your credit score and build positive financial history
  • Be free to move on to your next debt priority and its short-­term goals

Once you’ve assessed what needs to happen first, start writing down some realistic short-term goals for yourself to work towards that can help get you out of debt. Maybe that means setting aside 5% of each paycheck towards paying off the debts, or maybe it means doing some weekend work or odd jobs and then using all the earnings towards debt repayment.

Get creative, and most of all… keep at it and don’t let up! Once you’ve successfully taken down that short-term goal, make another for yourself. You’ll start seeing results before you know it if you just stick to it.

It’ll Help You Bounce Back from Emergencies Faster (And Without Going Broke)

Having money in your savings and emergency funds is an easy but absolutely necessary short-term financial goal to have for yourself. But if you really want to see results (and want to achieve those short-term goals so that you can inch closer to long-term goals) you need to get specific.

Give yourself a number and a timeline. That’ll require a little mulling over your income, budget, and expenses. It might also mean squeezing your budget a bit tighter and cutting back on unnecessary spending a bit. That all depends on your short-term goals. short term goalsFind a realistic and attainable number you’d like to see in your emergency fund. Do the same for the separate savings accounts you hopefully have. You should have a fund for retirement, emergencies, and general savings; at the very least. If you have more funds for more specific short-term (or long term) financial goals, then you’re smarter than most of us!

It’s ok to start small. If you haven’t started saving for emergencies at all, set yourself a goal of $500­$1,000. Could you reasonably set aside that much money by the end of the month? You can break your short-term goals down even smaller into a kind of “micro­term goal” that you can work to tackle each week, or even daily. Go old­school and treat it like a piggy­bank if you want. Set aside $5 in cash at the end of each day, and put it in a jar or something. Then gather all that cash at the end of the month and deposit into your emergency fund.

That might mean that you have to skip your daily latte fix, but that also means that if your car breaks down unexpectedly next month, or if you have a scary trip to the E.R. when your insurance isn’t great; you’ll be ready and you won’t be completely broke trying to cover the costs.

You’ll Be Able to Better Stick to Your Budget

Having short-term financial goals in your sights makes it easier to stick to a budget because you can “see” those goals more clearly. For example, if one of your short-term goals is to put $100 into your savings account by the end of the week, you’re not likely to splurge on getting dessert at dinner. It’s small, but it makes more of a noticeable difference when you’re focused on short-term goals.

It’s hard to adhere to a budget when you’re thinking more abstractly or long term. When you’re focused on your short-term goals, straying from the budget is a bigger deal because it easily affects all your short-term goals for the week, month, or year.

Speaking of your budget, you may have some long term goals for your budget but you can also have some short-term goals. In fact, short-term budget goals are easy to handle, and therefore,  you’ll be more likely to stick to your financial plan.

Long term, you could have a budget goal of not spending more than $3,000 on entertainment luxuries so that you can use the money you saved to take a trip. But short-term, you could have a budget goal of spending less than $30 during your weekend nights out.

Sticking to a budget of less than $30 this weekend is a lot easier to actively stick to than your long-term budget goal of spending less than $3,000. Those short-term financial goals will instantly improve your ability to stick to your budget!

It’s Easier to Save for the Goals in the Near Future

Just like with your short-term budget goals, short-term savings goals are more tangible, and so we’re more likely to take daily action to work towards those short-term financial goals. But by working towards just the nearest short-term savings goal, we’re actually vastly improving our chances of quickly reaching that long-term saving goal. So if you want to have $1 million to retire on by the time you’re 60, then your best course of action is to set a short-term goal of saving $100 into your retirement fund each month.

And that’s just speaking about the practical short-term savings goals. short term goalsWhat about the short-term goals in our lives outside of our finances? It costs money to take a cruise, or buy your mom a new car like you always promised. But those are important goals.

To achieve those important goals, you’ll need some short term savings goals established for yourself. You can save for short-term goals that’ll help you to achieve all the important stuff. Save enough money to finally buy yourself that nice camera by the end of next month, and then save enough money to take photography classes by the end of the next month.

Short-term financial goals can help you save money for the nearer things, as well as help you save money for the farther away long term goals that you have for yourself.

It’ll Help You to Reach Your Long ­Term Goals

You have to start somewhere. Setting a series of short-term financial goals for yourself is the first (and arguably the most important) step to reaching your long-term financial goals.

You can’t just set a long-term goal of wanting to purchase a house by the time you’re 35 and then do nothing in the short-term to achieve that long term goal. You’ll find yourself 35 and still renting.

So set a short-term goal of saving $200 per month to go towards a down payment on that dream house. Set a short term goal of cutting back on eating out at restaurants this month so that you can put the money you’ve saved into that house fund. Set a short-term goal of buying the bargain brand that you don’t like as much, and remind yourself that the extra spare change will help you afford that house.

It’s the smaller short-term goals that will get you to that long term satisfaction. Whether the short term goal is for today, this week, or the next year… it’ll always make a difference, however small.

It Keeps You On Track for Retirement

Saving for retirement is one of those long-term goals that are easy to put on the backburner. It’s just so tedious, right? Yes, yes… you know you should already be seriously saving for retirement. But it’s hard to focus on such a long term goal when your short-term goals seem more pressing at the moment.

But setting short-term financial goals can be the key to sneakily saving for retirement. Establishing a short-term savings goal of putting just $30 into your retirement fund each month, or putting as much of your paycheck as you can comfortably afford into the 401K that your company matches, you’ll have a substantial amount in your savings account at the end of the year.

Whatever short-term goal you set for yourself when it comes to saving for retirement; just keep plugging away at it. After a few months or at the end of the year, reassess that goal you originally set. Can you up the amount you save each month or from each paycheck? Do you need to scale back a smidge in order to focus more on tackling debt or other short-term goals?

Your short-term retirement savings goals can be adjusted as needed. But no matter what, don’t stop saving! Even if you need to cut back on your savings goal to just setting aside $10 each month in order to handle an unexpected financial crisis, then so be it. You’re still moving forward.

Your Credit Score and Financial History Will Improve

Particularly if eliminating or reducing your debt is your main short-term goal, your credit score inching its way back up will be a happy side­effect of setting and maintaining a series of short-term financial goals.

If your credit score is abysmally low, an easy short-term financial goal to set for yourself is to get it back up. You can do that be making a short-term goal to pay all your bills on time each month, or to pay off as much debt as possible to reduce the strain on your credit score.

Or, if you don’t have much debt baggage, but your credit score is still low, you can get a credit card and make it your short-term goal to pay it off each week so that your improving credit history and positive payment history will raise up that bad credit from the dead. short term goalsThose are easy short-term goals that you can stick to that will help boost your credit score.

Your credit score is far more vital to your finances (including having a major impact on those long term and short-term goals) than most people realize. It can affect how much your cell phone bill is, your likelihood of getting approved for a loan, renting a car, getting your dream apartment or home, or even getting that job. There is a myriad of short-term financial goals that you can set for yourself that will not only improve your credit score, but also your general financial health.

You’de Be More Able to Effectively Prioritize Your Financial Goals

By tackling the short-term goals that are most urgent (like eliminating debt, paying off a car, improving your credit, or sticking to your budget) you’ll be able to move on to the next most time­sensitive short term goal.

If you manage to shake off any negative financial aspects that might be holding you back, then you’ll be able to move on to more big­picture thinking. It’s hard to save much money when you’re bogged down by spending more than you make, or if there are student loans hanging over your head.

Prioritizing the most urgent short-term financial goals is easy. And from there, you can more accurately assess what needs to happen next in order for you to reach your longer-term goals more efficiently.

It might help if you map it out in a kind of timeline. Taking a look at your bank statement might reveal a lot about where your money is going, and what you can do to improve your finances in the short-term. It’ll all help you prioritize those long-term goals, and you’ll be able to more easily achieve them.

You’ll Wind Up Saving More Money with Short­ Term Goals In Sight

Those short-term goals that you have for your budget, your savings accounts, and your daily expenditures will all add up to you saving a significant amount of money. That’s because it’s the short-term goals that will get you to long-term savings goals.

Like we covered earlier, it’s easier to stick to a budget and save more money when you have closer short-term goals in your sights. It’s easier to focus on saving $50 this week. You can take small steps like cutting back on unnecessary spending, putting in a couple more hours at work, etc.

It’s much harder to focus on those long-term goals. You tell yourself that you want to save $1,000 by the end of the month. But you’re going to be more likely to actually do it if you have a few smaller goals in the short-term to focus on each week or even each day.

You’ll wind up saving more money if you stick to all those easily attainable short-term goals than if you simply focus on the long term.

You’ll Always Be One Step Ahead, Moving Forward, And Ready for the Next Financial Goal

The important thing is to try to always keep moving forward, like a shark. It’s ok if your short-term goals are small. By accomplishing even tiny short-term goals, that’s how you’ll be able to slowly move your way up to bigger short-term goals, and to achieving those long-term goals that seem almost impossible from where you’re at right now.

Take it one short-term financial goal at a time. Keep adding new short-term goals for your finances, and reassess what you can handle as you go. You’ll soon see yourself making progress towards those long-term financial goals as well as an increased ability to more easily manage the short-term stuff. You’ll be ready for your planned financial goals, as well as ready to tackle anything unexpected like a financial pro.

Scott Carver
Scott Carver
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