We know how to create a budget or set goals but it is hard to stick to the budget or reach our goals. It is hard to stay motivated when things get tough or when you’re tempted by something else. This is why it is SO important to find ways to stay accountable. Here are some ways to help you stay on track with your financial goals. Try a few or try them all just find ways that work best for you.
Set Short-Term Goals
Set short-term goals to keep you motivated while you are trying to reach your long-term goals. You can set up weekly or monthly goals that are smaller wins. When you reach those short-term goals, reward yourself! Take some of your budgeted spending money and go get a manicure, or a new shirt or anything that is within reason (even if it is just treating yourself to coffee or a walk in the park). Celebrate with friends and have a girls night. Tell them what you accomplished and let them celebrate with you. You should be proud of your accomplishments.
When you are setting your weekly or monthly goes make sure to share them with a close friend or a family member so they know what you are trying to accomplish. When you are struggling call or text them for motivation. You need to build a community to help you stay accountable you don’t have to be on this journey alone.
Download a FREE Monthly Goal Sheet Download here! Use this to keep you on track.
Make it Visual
Create a chart that you can look at every day and keep it in a place you will see it every day (your fridge, next to your bed, anywhere!) Make an electronic copy of your goal (or your chart) and have it as your phone background so you know what you are trying to accomplish. Draw any shape (star, heart, smiley face) or write a word in block letters and create horizontal lines. Write a $ amount next to each line and color it in every time you pay off some debt or save some money. If you don’t want to draw (or you are an awful artist like me) you can print examples off online. There is a great website called Debt Free Charts that has free charts as well as charts for $1. A few other examples are below:
The thermometer goals chart you can draw or print from online (check Pinterest there are many). You can find a blank one and color in as you reach your goal.
You can make a very simple chart in excel. This chart could be by month, season, year, week, whatever you want. You can add columns, or delete columns for whatever you think would work best for you. You could print this and hang it up or you could edit it in excel every day. This is just one example of a super simple goals chart that could be completed.
Find an Accountability Partner
Find someone who is in a similar situation or has financial goals even if they aren’t the same as yours.Text or call them when you are struggling and be vulnerable and honest. I know talking about money can be a touchy subject but the more open you are towards close friends or people in similar situations, the faster you will realize you are not alone. You can do it. Other people can help give you tips or keep you motivated to reach your short and long-term goals. In the end, you will be so glad you did and you can celebrate!
Make sure you are being completely honest about your current financial situation. Your budget should include everything. Do not leave anything out because you are embarrassed or because “I don’t spend that every month”. If something isn’t working or you find yourself really struggling to reach a goal then take some time to review that goal. Should I break it down into smaller, more achievable steps? Do I need to change the goal? Should I save it for another month? Do I need to change some habits in my life so that I can reach it? Think of the answers to these questions and make the changes necessary to reach your goals.
You need to update your budget each month and you need to be totally honest with yourself and your spouse when creating your budget. You need to know where each dollar of your paycheck is going so that you can reach your short and long-term goals. If you are not honest with yourself, you will have a difficult time holding yourself accountable for your goals. There is no reason to be embarrassed. You want to change your current situation and that is great!
Set Limits and Create Separate Accounts
If you max out your credit cards or spend more than you want, try using cash for a month. I do believe that credit cards are good when used correctly (you can read more about that here) but if you currently are trying to get out of debt and don’t trust yourself to use them try to use cash for as many things as possible. Credit cards help you get rewards, increase your credit score, and other benefits but if you’re trying to get out of debt try to use cash for a month and see what happens.
Open a savings account that is separate from your current checking account. If your savings account is with a different bank it will take longer to transfer funds and you are less likely to transfer them. Consider an online bank (I use Ally and they have great interest rates) and put money in there and do not touch it. I have three Ally savings accounts that I put money into each month.
Set daily, weekly, monthly reminders on your phone for certain action items you have for your goals. If you want to pay $100 towards your student loan debt on a certain day make sure you set a reminder on your phone. You can set recurring reminders too so you do it every month. I make sure I write down reminders in my Simplified Planner. I also have reminders on google calendar which syncs with my phone and computer.
Write Down The Starting Steps
Lara Casey talks about this in her book Make it Happen and in her goal setting series on her blog. Often times we know what goals we want to reach but we have no idea where to start. It is important to write down the starting step even for very simple things. For example, if you are trying to save $100 automatically every month your starting steps would be open your computer and log onto your bank website. We often forget how simple the starting steps are because we get so focused on the end and where we want to be.
Don’t Give Up
Do not worry if something happens and it takes longer to reach your goal. Remember this is not a sprint it’s a marathon. Give yourself a break sometimes. It is okay if you have not saved $100k in a year or paid off all of your debt in 2 years (for more encouragement check out this post). If I can help in any way let me know!
For more ways to make money, save money, and manage your money, check out my recommendations page.