5 Ways to Stay on Track With Your Financial Goals in 2021
Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Beep. Beep. Beep.
My hands, clenched tightly and pulling at the part of my hair where pigtails would go - if I had pigtails.
It has been several days of my refrigerator beeping - beeping every 3 minutes, all day and throughout the night.
You can only imagine that frustration if you’ve been through something similar. Three beeps, every 3 minutes. Not enough to interrupt. Not enough to cause hearing loss. Just audible enough to make you question your sanity and sense of time.
“I get it! There’s a problem!” I screamed out loud while on a Zoom call.
The system designed to alert me, while annoying, was doing the right thing. It did the job. I was fully aware that there was a problem.
The new year is right around the corner, and we may feel motivated to set new goals. But the statistics show that by mid-February, our motivation quickly trails off, and there’s no daily alarm there to help us stay on track.
A broken refrigerator may only spoil $100 worth of food, but missed credit card payments could cost you thousands and crush your credit score. How do you recover from this? I promise it’s MUCH harder than a refrigerator handyman and a trip to the grocery store.
So while I would never wish on anyone an annoying beep every 3 minutes, there are lessons here.
If you are serious about getting your money in order in 2021, I highly recommend picking at least 2 of these 5 ways to stay on track with your financial goals:
1. Set alarms that work for you!
Every 3 minutes might be overkill, but an alarm is a great tool to draw your attention - if you are willing to listen and follow through. Here are some recommendations, but only you know what will work best for you:
Set up alarms on your phone for daily reminders
Set calendar reminders or tasks for weekly or monthly reminders
Set automatic bank notifications
We recommend that people should check their bank accounts once a day - especially when they are beginning to budget or making new goals. With an online banking app, it takes no more than 15 seconds, the same amount of time it takes to check Instagram. This will help you see your earning and spending habits over time. It will also alert you to any oddities that may occur.
We recommend that people should check their credit card statements weekly. Again, this helps you track your spending and identify any fraudulent actions that need immediate addressing.
While you are there - most credit cards offer a credit score tracking option - check that once a month just to see how you are doing. Admittingly, it isn’t 100% accurate, but it will help you see trends over time. Also, pay your bill on time!
If you need help setting financial goals, our Money Positioning System, a tool we built as a part of our Financial Stability 101 course, will help you set goals and track your earning, spending, debt, over a three month period. It has a ton of feedback built in to guide you along the way.
Many banks have automatic notifications that can alert you to overspending and low account balances. Take advantage of these. They are free and can alert you to your own spending habits as well as fraudulent transactions.
2. Put Your Goals In Front of You Every Day
Phone apps and alerts are not good enough for many people though. There is too much noise on our phones, and we are all pros out tuning out the notifications we’re not in the mood to care about.
I mean write them big on your wall next to your bed, at your office/desk. Write them on a post-it note and hang them on your bathroom mirror, or on the dashboard in your car, if you use that regularly. Stick them to your refrigerator or laminate them and use them as a placement. I don’t care how you do it but just do it.
We are WAY too distracted on a daily basis, and if you are not physically seeing your goals multiple times a day, you will tune them out.
3. Start a Daily Affirmation
This is simple but very powerful. The key here is to write your goal, but also WHY you want to reach that goal.
I want to exercise 2 hours a week to feel healthier, happier, and more focused.
I want to meditate 2 hours a week to be a better mother/father/parent/partner etc..
I want to save $200 a month to invest in my kid's college education
I want to practice 30 minutes a day of Spanish, to earn more, so I can buy my own house in 5 years
We recommend saying them out loud to yourself once in the morning, once after lunch, and once after you get off of work, every day.
There are two powerful dynamics at play here, repetition and purpose.
Our social media feeds practice repetition - how many times do you see the same ad?
Our phone notifications practice repetition - reminders, notifications, alarms...
Our years of negative self-talk practice repetition - We begin to believe what we tell ourselves over and over again.
Repetition is one of the keys to learning, and success.
Our social media feeds practice purpose - Ads want to earn your money.
Our phone notifications practice purpose - draw your attention to the platform (also to inform them of how they can sell you something better!).
Our years of negative self-talk doesn’t have a purpose - and yet we still do it regularly (but that is a topic for another blog post).
There is a reason for every distraction we encounter every day. But none of these are directed at helping you reach your goals.