By Angela Fitzgerald
Hello everyone, and welcome to 2016! Any new year typically brings with it much excitement and anticipation, along with goal setting to support turning dreams into reality. When it comes to personal finances specifically, the new year can also signify a time of recuperating from holiday spending and recalibrating to support financial goals and dreams. This may be the year that you desire to travel more, or go back to school, start your own business or finally become a homeowner. Whatever your dreams are, you are to be commended for having a vision in mind that centers on financial success. But now that you have a goal in mind, it’s time to put in the work. What does that mean exactly? Let’s look at a few of the above examples and lay out sample action plans.
Financial Goal: Stepping up your travel game
So pictures of exotic places have caused you to be bitten by the travel bug, and now you can’t get the idea of travelling more out of your mind. But you start to become slightly discouraged when looking at the cost of flights, as you wonder how in the world you can afford the few thousand dollars it would take to fund the trip of your dreams. Being the determined and fiscally-savvy person that you are, you become aggressive in your pursuit of being able to afford your flight. Your action plan could include turning your Starbucks addiction into a savings challenge, where you divert all funds typically used to purchase lattes into your travel savings account. You’re also determined to dabble in a few side hustles to generate extra cash, including but not limited to perusing the ‘gigs’ section of Craigslist, selling items that you no longer use (like that old iPhone), and offering up your services to others based on your existing skill sets (e.g., babysitting, hair braiding, grant writing, graphic design, photography, etc.). You also become a regular on travel blogs that specialize in informing travelers on the most budget-friendly manner to achieve their travel goals. Before you know it, you’ve saved up the cash and have booked your flight, during non-peak travel times, as you embark on the journey of a lifetime.
Financial Goal: Becoming a homeowner
You’ve done the math and have taken your life circumstances and future plans into consideration, arriving at the conclusion that you are now ready to take the plunge and become a homeowner. Now the goal setting begins. You have a conversation with a mortgage lender as well as other trusted individuals in your life who have successfully become home owners, to better understand the process and the next steps for you to take. This could include getting a recent copy of your credit report and investigating anything that needs correcting, ramping up your savings power until you have enough to put towards a down payment, or treating your budget as though you’re already making a mortgage payment. You also become knowledgeable on the housing market in your area, such that you’re an intelligent consumer who can recognize a good deal and negotiate effectively. You may even decide to take an even more financially astute route and purchase a multi-unit property in which you plan to live, such that you are able to generate income from your purchase while having a space to call home. Your focus and determination allows for you to recognize that home ownership is not something to be taken lightly, and as such you put in the time and effort that it takes to make the right decision for you at the right time.
The above scenarios are just two general examples of ways to go about financial goal-setting, and can be customized to fit your specific scenario. For the rest of the month, the ladies behind Brown Girl, Green Money will be sharing their personal finance goals for the year, and what we plan to do to tackle those goals. The Brown Girl, Green Money crew would also love to hear about your 2016 personal finance goals. Feel free to share them by emailing us at email@example.com. Also, if you have an idea of what you would like to accomplish financially this year, but need a little help clarifying those goals – feel free to send an email our way. We would love to help you brainstorm some ideas to get you on your way. Welcome to 2016 – let’s make it the best financial year yet!
Angela is a researcher/program evaluator by day, and crime fighter by night. And by “crime”, she means the perceived inability to turn dreams into reality. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to share your money story, chop it over life goals, or all things Shonda Rhimes. Also, check out Brown Girl, Green Money on the book of faces at www.facebook.com/browngirlgreenmoney