As women, we typically invest because we’re looking to save money to hit a goal — not just a number on a piece of paper, but a real-life thing we want to buy. This is goal-based investing.
Goal-based investing is quite different from the traditional objective of investing. Traditional investing often revolves around trying to outperform some target, like market index or prior performance. While we may be successful in beating the market, if we don’t have a plan in place to drive our investment strategy, we may not position ourselves to achieve our goals, like starting a business, getting on track for retirement, or buying a new home. That’s why financial planning is an essential piece to achieving a goal.
I believe goals-based investing gives you a much higher chance of reaching your goals because it gives you a finish line or, for many of us, several finish lines. The simple act of writing down your goals and sharing them with others statistically increases your chances of achieving them.
Think about what you could achieve by building a financial plan designed around your goals. If planning is the key to achieve your financial goals, how do you stay motivated when other priorities arise or distractions set in? Here are a few tips to help you stay on course:
Focus on the “Why”
Why do you want to “retire” early, travel the world, or purchase a vacation home? Maybe you want to retire from your 9-5 job because it’s always been your dream to open your own business. Motivation often comes down to the reasons you have for making a change. When our financial goals align with our life’s purpose, we’re more likely to stick with the plan.
Establish and celebrate the milestones along the way
Break down big-picture financial goals into a series of steps you can take one at a time.
If you want to pay off a $7,000 credit card balance, set a monthly goal for how much you want to pay above your minimums. If you want to take a dream trip to Australia, you could figure out how much you’d have to save each month to take that vacation 24 months from now.
Something else that boosts motivation is setting yourself up for small wins along the way. For example, if you owe $7,000 across multiple cards, celebrate each time you achieve a $0 card balance. And, instead of saving for an expensive trip right off the bat, maybe you budget a $500 weekend getaway once you reach the halfway mark of your savings goal.
Achieving these short-term wins provides positive reinforcement around choosing healthier money habits and gives you a chance to build the skills and momentum needed to reach your bigger goals.
Keep your eye on the prize
Motivation to stay focused on your financial goals can wane when the wins are fewer, and when there is more time in between accomplishments. A smart way to bolster your motivation is to keep your money goals in sight — literally.
Create visual reminders of your money behaviors and goals and keep them in a prominent place where you will see them each day, like posting a picture of your dream home at your office desk or tape it to the corner of your bathroom mirror.
Visually tracking your progress is also an excellent way to get that “small win” feeling for each step you take toward your ultimate goal. You also can use the money goal-tracking charts on Debt Free Charts to help you stay on track.
An even more powerful way to stay on track is to tie your visual cue to positive financial behavior. Say you want to curb unnecessary spending; stick a post-it note to your credit card asking, “Is this purchase aligned with my money goals?” You can couple this with a process: you read the post-it note before every purchase, take 30 seconds to honestly answer it, and then proceed accordingly.
Avoid motivation fatigue
Use your initial motivation and momentum to build positive money habits that are self-sustaining. Automate money tasks where possible. For example, set up direct deposit of a portion of your paycheck into savings or schedule a recurring extra debt payment after each payday.
These are a few easy steps to help you achieve your financial goals and to help you stay on track during your journey!
Speaking of journeys, don’t forget to check out my Dream.Plan.Do. video series where I sit down with local women who share their stories of how they turned their dreams into reality. My hope is that this series will inspire other women to make their dream a goal by giving it a deadline. You can watch all 4 episodes here and new episodes are released monthly.