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7 To-Dos for Starting a Financially Fit New Year

Did you commit to improving your financial well-being when that ball dropped on New Year’s? If so, you’re already one step closer to making it happen. Now it’s time to identify exactly what that means to you and how you’ll achieve your goals without losing focus.

To help you keep from dropping a ball of your own this year, we recommend following these guidelines when setting and achieving your financial goals.

Match your goals to your values.

It’s one thing to want to get financially fit because you’re told it’s the right thing to do. It’s an entirely different (and more effective) scenario if you set out to achieve a financial goal that rings true to who you are — or who you want to be — as a person.

Take a moment to consider what you want to achieve in life or what’s important to you overall. Chances are your financial well-being is somehow related because in most cases you’ll need savings, a good credit score or a reasonably low level of debt to realize your goal. For example, you’re going to need a sizeable savings if you want to retire early so you can volunteer or travel. You’ll need good credit to start your own business, own a home or land your dream job. And you’ll want to be debt-free if you simply want to reduce stress, save money and feel financially free.

Break it up into S.M.A.R.T. pieces you can manage.

Staying on track is a lot easier when you have something to celebrate often. Instead of making one lofty goal and getting discouraged by not reaching it, break down that goal down into short- and long-term achievements. Then reward yourself a little every time you achieve a short-term goal.

When creating your goals, make sure it’s something that you can track and complete. You can do this by setting S.M.A.R.T. goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timed

Find the power of putting it in writing.

First, jot down your overall long-term goal and the short-term goals that’ll get you there. Then write out a plan for how you’ll accomplish these goals and make a to-do list with items that you can cross off. Stay motivated by displaying your end-result somewhere visible like on your refrigerator or your bathroom mirror, and keep your checklist in an easily accessible spot. Then refer back to your plans, lists and reminders when you feel the tug of discouragement or the temptation to veer off course.

Automate as much of it as possible.

We’re lucky enough to live in a world where there are tools that automate many of life’s most mundane (or easily forgettable) tasks. And as a FAIRWINDS member, you can take it a step further. We offer several features that can help you stay on track effortlessly month after month, including automatic deposits to your savings account, automatic payment on your auto loans, ¢hange it up, mobile banking and eAlerts that will keep you in the loop all of the time.

Reassess and fine-tune from time-to-time.

Hardly any plans are perfect the first go-round. It’s always a good idea to go back to your plans after you’ve been working through them for some time, and ask yourself: Is this working the way I hoped? If the answer is no, that’s ok. Simply look closely at your plan and find ways you can fine-tune it and make it better — setting yourself up for success.

Need a little guidance on setting financial goals to achieve your dreams? Stop by the branch nearest you and we’ll be happy to help you determine what needs to be done to get there.

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