Back in 2009, my wife, Wendy, and I discussed our wish to take our young family on a Disney cruise for a week. Setting aside the discussion of whether a Disney cruise (or any cruise for that matter) is a good idea for a family that included a non-potty-trained 1-year old plus a 3-year old, let me tell you what that discussion did for us.
First, we wrote down in our budget and in emails/texts back and forth our plans for going. Next, we determined that we would, after all, take our family on a cruise in the fall of 2010. Once we set that goal, Wendy (the wonder that she is) set to work over the next 12 months or so researching costs for airfare, cruise tickets, hotels, and even some tickets for an Orlando theme park for a couple of days. Because we had agreed upon and written it down (in our calendars, in our budget, etc.), she was always on the lookout for good deals, and she certainly found them. She also noticed offers over the next year for special pricing on travel and lodging so that the budget for such expenses ended up being just a fraction of the originally expected costs.
We ended up spending a wonderful two weeks together as a family, had lots of fun, ate way too much as all cruisers do, dealt with a few tantrums, made some great memories, had only one broken bone in the family, and were even able to incentivize Wendy’s Mom and her best friend to come along with us (though that didn’t take much). This all happened because Wendy and I turned our “someday wish” into a goal by writing it down, looking at it and talking about it frequently.
It’s my belief that Dreamers dream, doers do. And Doers turn their dreams and wishes into goals.
“Unwritten goals become unfulfilled wishes.”
Here’s a simplified, step-by-step method to turning our dreams into goals.
The keys to setting our financial goals involve being specific, keeping them simple, and writing them down!
Having one to three financial goals is a good place to start.
- First, discuss and write down what we want to purchase or do that will require us to come up with $1,000 or less. If we set a goal of more than $1,000, we’ll have a hard time relating to it, thus removing the motivating factor of the goal.
- Second, determine the month and year by which we want to complete or achieve this goal. Don’t just write, “In 6 months,” because each time we look at our goal, it will still say “In 6 months.” Remember, be specific and write down the month and the year. Setting the goal to happen within 12 months is a good way of keeping it immediate (and, again, motivating) in our day-to-day activities and decisions.
- Third, estimate how much money we will need to save overall in order to reach this goal. Figure out as well how much that will be on a monthly basis.
- If we’re married, make sure that we involve our spouse in these steps. Having common, mutually agreed upon financial goals does not guarantee a perfect marriage, but I believe it’s the best tip for minimizing arguments about money.
- Finally, post the goal where it will be seen regularly. The fridge, the night stand, our wallet or the bathroom mirror are all good spots.
Here’s an example of what our goal could have looked like: “Take the entire family on a western Caribbean cruise in November, 2010 by putting aside $300 a month into our ‘Caribbean Cruise’ savings account.”
So, what dream do you want to turn into a goal?