Most people have financial goals that they would love to accomplish. Some of these may be smaller, such as going on a weekend getaway. Others may require a more significant and costly commitment. Such as, saving for a down payment on a home or finally paying off that $7,000 credit card balance.
The challenge with large financial goals is they can quickly become overwhelming. After all, saving $40,000 for a down payment on a home isn’t going to happen overnight. So, it becomes easy to push these goals to the back of your mind and leave them for tomorrow, next month, or even years from now.
Steps to Make Large Goals Obtainable
At first glance, many significant financial goals may appear impossible to achieve. But “appear” is the keyword because how you look at the goal makes all the difference. The best way to achieve any substantial goal is to break it down into smaller bite-sized chunks.
Let’s walk through an example to help illustrate how a large financial goal can change dramatically simply by how you look at it.
Step #1: Identify the Target Amount & Goal Date
When setting a financial goal, you must be realistic. You most likely are not going to save $50,000 in a week. So, for this example, the plan will be to save $10,000 in two years to remodel a room in our home.
$10,000 in two years may seem challenging at first glance. But, let’s start breaking it down.
Step #2: Break Down the Goal
When separating a goal into smaller components, the trick is to keep going until the task becomes achievable. Start by breaking the amount down by years.
- YEARS: $10,000 in two years becomes $5,000 per year. That alone can seem more attainable, but let’s keep going.
- MONTHS: $5,000 per year is the same as $416.67 a month – about the same as a monthly car payment.
- WEEKS: You can go a step further and break the total down to weeks, which equals $96.15 per week.
When looking at the goal of $10,000 in two years, $96.15 per week doesn’t seem as overwhelming. Your next step will be to find ways to save these additional funds on a weekly basis.
NOTE: When breaking down a goal, you may find that it’s still unrealistic after separating the amount into weeks. In that case, start over. Either adjust your total dollar amount or the time frame to achieve the goal. Repeat this process until you’re satisfied with the weekly or monthly amount.
STEP #3: Create a Savings Plan
Breaking your financial goal down into bite-sized chunks doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be easy to achieve. You still need to find how you’re going to put aside the additional money – in our example, $96.15 per week.
- Financial Windfalls: Start by considering any work bonuses you receive or your tax refund. If these funds are consistent each year, you can use a portion of this money toward your goal. For example, assume you receive a $2,000 annual bonus and decide to put $1,000 towards your home remodel. Instead of a $5,000 goal per year, it decreases to $4,000. Likewise, your weekly goal declines to $76.92 per week.
- Review Your Budget: Next, spend time going through your current budget and looking for areas you can trim. It’s best to review a few WANT to have a monthly subscription to get your car washed. You don’t NEED it. Look for multiple smaller items that may add up to something significant.
- Increase Your Income: If you cannot reduce your monthly expenses enough, consider adding new income streams. This may include taking on extra hours at work, using your skills to pick up freelance projects, or opting for a side hustle, such as a ridesharing program or food delivery. Do you have anything you can sell?
NOTE: Try to use a combination of these tactics to meet your financial obligation. For example, using $1,000 from your work bonus already reduces the weekly amount by nearly $20. Upon reviewing your current budget, you may identify an additional $15 per week you can cut. Then, you can make up the difference with extra hours at work or through freelance projects.
We’re Here to Help!
Large financial goals can seem intimidating at first. However, it all comes down to how you view the problem. When you spend time breaking down your goals into smaller objectives, you may realize they aren’t as challenging as you initially thought. We also have free financial coaches waiting to help you reach your financial goals.
As your credit union, we have tools to help make saving an easier process. Whether you’re interested in automating your savings plan or you want to explore higher-earning account options, we’re ready to help. Contact one of our team members 9am-4pm ET, M-F. Call or text (315) 671-4000, or chat right from our website.
Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.