Setting Your 2018 Financial Goals

Between December 31st and January 1st there’s plenty of talk about financial resolutions, but at eight days into the new year, how many have you already broken? Personally, I’ve already broken two… I had promised myself that I would work out everyday and cut sugar from my diet, and failed so far on both accounts. Rough start. But I have kept the big one: allocate money from my paycheque immediately into savings and investment accounts to ensure I don’t spend it elsewhere. I won’t be rewarding myself with chocolate, but maybe a small happy dance.

The point isn’t to quit after initial failure, it’s to keep trying and identify ways to ensure ultimate success come next December. Financial resolutions can be challenging ones to integrate into daily life because there’s often a learning curve; if you haven’t successfully budgeted or invested before, it’s likely because you don’t feel familiar with allocating money or with the stock market – or just don’t know how to get started. Somehow algebra was deemed to be universally useful in high school, but the stock market wasn’t.

Beyond that, perhaps you were just so relieved to see the backend of 2017 that you haven’t sat down to really consider what you want to achieve or change about your life in 2018. Now’s the time to dig in. Once you’ve figured out your goals, the next step is to ensure you’ll stick to them.

Here’s how to make financial resolutions you’ll keep:

Don’t make them vague

Set very specific goals that’ll be clear as to whether you’re achieving them on a monthly basis. For example, “I want to save enough to take a trip this year,” is not a clear goal. But “I want to save $400 every month so that I can go on vacation this year” is very clear, and easy to determine success. For goals like this, set up an individual account that only holds your vacation savings, that way you can see exactly how much you have month over month, without needing to worry about other expenses coming out of that account. Further, set up the account so that you can’t access it from the ATM, lessening the temptation to spend the cash on a whim.

Keep them focused

Narrow your list down to two or three resolutions, maximum. It’s not the time to be overachievers. If these were life goals, we’d say shoot for the moon, but because we’re talking financial goals and there is only so much money to spread out, keep your objectives for 2018 targeted. Being specific makes your goals far more attainable and success is the name of the game! 😉

Be realistic

Make your resolutions realistic, and give yourself opportunity to overachieve – not underachieve. Saying you’d like to buy a house in 2018 is maybe a bit out of touch with reality, although that depends on where you live and how much you already have saved. Perhaps you’re really good at this and that house is almost within reach! For most of us, especially city dwellers where the cost of living can be sky-high, focus on financial goals that are achievable like, “I’d like to have an established investment portfolio by the end of year. Each month I’ll contribute $600 towards it.”

If an investment club is one of your goals, we’ve got just the hack for you: pool your money with your friends who have the same goal and maximize your ability to invest in the stock market – as well as your potential returns. Our investment club app makes it easy to combine – and remove money when necessary – so that you can trade with more authority in the stock market.

Create a plan to make them real

Let’s make sure you have a plan to bring those goals to reality! Step one is to determine when you would like to accomplish the goal by, then work backwards to figure out what you need to do to work towards the goal each month. Perhaps you’d like to pay off a student loan. In order to do that do you need to cut back on eating out, simply put more money aside each month, or look for ways to make more money? If you choose to make more money, by what date do you need to find that side employment or hustle? When will be your middle point when you can assess how your goal is coming along? Establish checkin points on the calendar, and remember to be kind to yourself – you’ll get there.

Make your resolutions everyday habits

The best way to ensure that goals become reality is to make them part of your everyday routine. Integrate small steps into your daily life to help make them stick, like food prepping instead of eating out in order to save money (and eat better!). Or perhaps check your bank account every morning to make your financial awareness top of mind so that you don’t spontaneously spend your hard earned money.

Setting financial goals is an admirable way to start the year and we wish you much success with yours! If you start to lose motivation, just think of future you, staring at your bank account or investment portfolio a year from now and all the warm fuzzies you’ll feel. It’ll be worth it!