A common piece of financial planning advice is to set some money goals for yourself and your family. Some popular goals are building up an emergency fund or saving for a mortgage down payment, a new vehicle, a vacation, or retirement. Having a clear financial goal can make it easier to stick with your budget.
While we think money goals are important, we know that it’s easy to get bogged down by outdated or impractical goals. Life changes, and sometimes that means your financial goals should too.
If the thought of changing a financial goal makes you feel a little anxious or guilty, you’re not alone. Many people experience negative feelings when they think about modifying their financial goals. But a money goal should serve you and your family, not the other way around. So if you’re thinking about making changes to your financial goals, go for it!
Creating smart money goals
When you sit down to create a money goal, consider what’s important to you, what you want, and what you need.
That’s exactly what my husband and I did when we decided to save up for a new minivan. It’s something we’ve been thinking about since having our second child.
A minivan would give us more space and a nicer driving experience, so we’ve been saving up to make this goal happen. We made a category in our budget and have been diligent about putting some money away each month. Like most people, we find it much easier to save money when there is a specific goal we’re working toward rather than just a nebulous concept like “save more money.”
Monitoring financial goals
Recently, we realized that we had met our savings goal for the new minivan. But now that we’re here, we’re rethinking. The more we’ve thought about it, the less we feel excited about the idea.
We realized that we don’t really spend a lot of time in the car – usually we are just driving a few miles back and forth to the office a couple of times a week. And having the nicest car on the road isn’t a priority for either of us.
Instead of just going out to buy the new minivan as soon as we were able to, we took a step back and reevaluated. A new minivan costs a lot of money; is there something we could spend those funds on that would be more beneficial for our family?
Keeping or changing your financial goals
In the end, we decided against buying the minivan. Instead, we used some of the money to redo the furniture in our owner’s suite and in the kids’ bedrooms. We’re so happy with how everything turned out!
What we ended up doing with the money showed a big shift in our financial priorities, and that’s OK. We could have felt bad about it, but instead, we chose to focus on the positives. We used our money based on what was important to us in the long run: having a comfortable home that fits our lifestyle.
At the end of the day, the best way to use your money is in a way that matches your values and priorities. And it’s OK if your goals change over time. Being willing to reevaluate your money goals shows that you are really thinking about the best way to use the resources you have.
The most important money goal: honor your values
What about you? Have you been saving money for something only to realize that it’s no longer a priority for you? Or are you avoiding spending money on something you really need or want because you feel guilty about it? Give yourself permission to change your goal or spend your money based on what really matters to you.
Maybe you want to save up for a really nice vacation instead of a downpayment on a home. That’s OK! Your saving and spending should match your values, even if they’re not the “conventional” priorities. Just make sure you and your partner take the time to really figure out what your priorities (short-term and long-term are). Don’t compromise your future financial stability for a splurge moment.
No matter what your money goals are, it’s easier to reach them when you have a budget. If you have a hard time sticking with a budget, check out our system, BudgetingBlocks™. It makes budgeting fun by allowing you to visualize where you want your money to go, whether you’re saving toward a goal or spending on something that’s important to you.