The past couple of years I’ve set financial goals for myself. Last year’s financial goals didn’t quite come to fruition. I only hit one of those goals, and it only happened recently.

While only hitting one financial goal could be seen as depressing, I’d have to say it’s better to set financial goals than not have any goals at all. Because even though I only hit one of my goals, I improved on half of the rest of them, which was still pretty good.

Instead of setting financial goals for myself this year, let’s look at financial types of goals that most people should be looking at as 2011 progresses.

1. Pay down more outstanding bills. Most people won’t tell you this, but you end up “making” more money paying off bills that have high interest rates than investing in the stock market or any other investments. If you can roll more money into those payments than what’s required each month, you’ll pay those bills off quicker, then have your money to invest if that’s what you want to do.

2. Invest some of your money. This is actually a good thing to do, but be cautious. Based on the last couple of years, the stock market can take a fast dive or grow without any good reason. Overall, long term investing ends up working better for you than almost anything else. But do it slowly; if possible, start off investing around $100 or less, just to get used to the concept. You’ll see your investments go up and down, but once you get used to it then hopefully you’ll be fine. You just have to be ready for some risk.

3. Learn to budget your money. Yeah, budgeting sounds like a pain, but the reality is that we all spend wastefully, then wonder where our money went when we want something special. Budgeting makes sure you have enough money to pay all your bills. Budgeting allows you to put money away for big ticket items you want. And budgeting lets you know what’s left after that so you can take in a concert or a movie or buy a pizza here and there.

4. Put some money into a savings account of some type. I put it that way because everyone doesn’t have to go to the bank to put money away. These days you get very little interest on your money, and banks will hit you up with fees if your balance isn’t very high. I have a change jar next to my desk that I put most of my change into, and other places where we store extra money for those just in case times. I learned that one from my mother, we’re not always in the position to head to the bank to get money, and what happens if the bank is closed and the ATM isn’t working?

5. Always make sure to take care of yourself first when fiscally possible. If you never have any fun, or you don’t make sure you’re putting money away in some fashion for yourself later on, then what’s the point in doing whatever you’re doing? If you find that you have nothing to enjoy, you probably won’t care as much about any of the other points above.

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