Lifetime Financial Goals We Should Strive Toward
As universal and essential as money is across the world—earning, having, and spending it means different things to people.
On a high level, we all want security, flexibility and fulfillment in our financial situations. One, or even two of these things, can be attained through gainful employment and prudent savings habits. However, you’ll need to set a wide range of financial goals to experience the trifecta.
Here are five financial goals anyone should strive toward in their lifetime.
Have No Debt
It might be tough living debt-free in the foreseeable future if you have a mortgage or student loan. But if you’re also dealing with high-interest credit card debt, it’s imperative to make a plan to get out of it as soon as possible. Mortgages and student loans are burdensome but won’t cost you 15-25 percent of your principal balance like a credit balance will.
If you’re struggling to make progress on too many balances, a student loan deferment or forbearance could give you time to make progress on high-interest debts. Additionally, contacting creditors before lapsing on payments could lead to a payment grace period, reduced interest, or a combination of the above — allowing you to get on track. Overall, make sure you’re following an efficient repayment by maximizing principal payments and reducing how much you’re paying in interest.
Live and Consume Modestly
Minimalism and simple living have gained steam with the rise of tiny homes and digital nomads, but modest consumption goes far beyond the place one resides. One must choose discipline on a decision-to-decision, day-to-day basis. Our society puts so many things in front of us that we don’t really need. And while we think we want these things at the time, they don’t make us any happier long-term.
This is why learning to see past the initial glamor and asking ourselves whether we really need “x” is critical to changing our consumption habits. Of course, this doesn’t mean life should be devoid of things — far from it. However, the stuff that fills our lives should be things we derive value from; things we like but more importantly use and need. When we increase our consumption to fill a void elsewhere in our lives, we’re only deepening the well of dissatisfaction.
There’s even a lesson to be learned on the giving side. We may think that giving more monetarily around the holidays is important, even when we’re barely making ends meet. Exercising holiday spending moderation is a top piece of advice from financial mind Andrew Housser. By trying to limit our spending, we’re forced to narrow our scope and give gifts with more sentimental value. Conveniently, these are also the types of gifts people appreciate the most.
Support a Charity
You don’t need money to support a charity, but charities most definitely require financial support. Evaluate the causes that are important to you. Perhaps you’re a fan of a particular sports player and you want to support their foundation. Maybe you’ve had a close friend or relative battle a specific disease and want to get involved with an aligned effort. Supporting charities give us a sense of fulfillment no personal purchase or gift could ever provide. But we need to be comfortable financially in order to give freely without endangering our own situation. As you’re building your savings, start by donating what you can (time or what you can afford monetarily) and work your way up as you can.
Have No Fear for the Next Surprise Expense
An astounding 69 percent of Americans have less than $1000 in their emergency fund, and 34 percent had no savings at all. Even more alarming, 34 percent of respondents had experienced an unexpected financial disaster in the last year. What does this mean? Over two-thirds of people are one car breakdown, serious health issue or extended unemployment period away from being in a serious financial predicament.
An absent emergency fund means draining savings, taking on credit card debt, or having to ask friends and family for help — none of which are especially enticing options. A critical benchmark of financial security is not living in fear of the next expense that surfaces. Having an emergency fund is a part of this, but the more significant piece is exercising moderation on a regular basis. It’s your habits that will cause your mindset to shift to healthy spending practices and leave you with more money on hand to cover what life throws at you.
Live a Comfortable Retirement
The concept of retirement is changing thanks to the gig economy and decreased loyalty between employees and companies. However, people still want to enjoy their golden years. So, while social security likely won’t be available (at least not at the amount currently set) for younger people in today’s workforce, using excuses in place of absent retirement saving only results in a twilight year spent having to work—undoubtedly a much different concept than working to stay busy or working as part of a hobby.
Ensure you’re taken care of in your later years by automating saving contributions out of each paycheck. The amount doesn’t need to be huge. All that’s important is consistency. Saving even $50 out of bi-weekly paychecks starting at age 25 will amount to a substantial sum of money 30 years later.
People have a lot of financial goals they aspire to achieve in their lifetimes. Maybe it’s having a family, owning a home, traveling a lot. Whatever your specific intentions may be, they’ll only be enhanced further through these goals.