16 Dec How to Set Financial Goals for 2021 and Stick with Them
With the end of the year just weeks away, it’s time to start thinking about financial goals for 2021.
I’m not talking about dreaming. Nor do I mean setting a grandiose New Year’s resolution.
A Wallet Hub study found, “Fewer than 50% of resolution-makers expect to keep their vow for a full year, which is not a good sign for hopes of improved money management.”
And check out these findings from Fidelity Investments’ 2020 New Year Financial Resolutions Study:
- 67% considered a financial resolution for the new year.
- 53% planned to save more money.
- 51% planned to pay down debt.
- 35% planned to spend less money.
If you made New Year’s resolutions back in 2020, they probably came crashing down early in the year with reports suggesting approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February.
Sadly, even if you had the best of intentions and understood how to set financial goals, March 2020 and the quarantine months likely affected your goals.
The good news is that a new year is right around the corner, and we can put 2020 and all of its mess behind us.
2020 hurt many of us financially, but we can have a fresh start with financial goals in 2021.
Read on to learn how to set financial goals for 2021.
Define Your Purpose
The reason New Year’s resolutions fail and people don’t achieve their goals is because they fail to define their purpose.
Ask yourself why you need financial goals for 2021.
- Do you need to get out of debt?
- Do you need to save for retirement?
- Do you need to pay for your kid’s college?
By defining your why, you will have a clear reason for setting and achieving your goals.
Review and Evaluate How Well You Did This Year
2020 was a hard year for many. If you did not achieve your financial goals, don’t beat yourself up. Many things were out of your control.
However, you still need to take time to review and evaluate your financial year.
- What worked for you? What didn’t work?
- What mistakes were made? What lessons can you learn from them?
- Did you get off track with your financial goals? Can you identify what happened or why?
After evaluating your year, start thinking about how you can use these insights to plan financial goals for 2021.
Decide On Realistic Financial Goals for 2021
When it comes to knowing how to set financial goals, begin by considering the big picture or your ultimate goal.
What do you want to happen financially in 2021?
Once you have your big financial goals for 2021 in mind, hit pause and ask yourself if they are realistic. A major reason goals fail is because they are unrealistic.
For example, let’s say you want to save $15,000 for a down payment on a house.
Looking at your budget, can you realistically save $1,250 a month to make this happen?
If not, you will feel defeated and give up on achieving this goal.
Instead, choose financial goals for 2021 that you can achieve, such as paying off your credit card or saving for a down payment.
Plan Out Quarterly Goals
Now that you have established your big-picture financial goals for 2021, it’s time to start thinking about how you are going to make it happen.
Break it down into quarterly goals rather than focusing solely on the end-picture goals.
Making short-term goals goes a long way toward achieving long-term goals.
For example, people who say they want to lose 24 pounds in a year will struggle more than people who say they want to lose 6 pounds in 3 months.
But, as they work toward their quarterly goal, they are moving closer to their year-long goal.
The same works financially. Set quarterly financial goals for 2021 using one of the three ways below.
Learn How to Invest
If you want to start investing, make 2021 the year you learn how.
The good news is, you don’t need a lot of money to start investing and it isn’t as complicated as people think.
For example, all the following broker apps and tools are great ways for beginners to start investing and working toward meeting their financial goals for 2021.
- Webull – Webull is a no-fee, zero-commission broker app that is ideal for beginners. You don’t have to be a professional to understand the app’s clear graphical interface and keep track of your stocks and the overall market.
- Robinhood – Robinhood is another no-fee, zero-commission broker app that is an excellent way to start investing. A major perk of using Robinhood is the 1000s of stocks you can invest in that are under $1. The app is designed to help beginners learn how to make their money grow.
- Coinbase – If you are ready to invest in cryptocurrency, consider Coinbase. Coinbase is an app where users can buy, sell, and manage their cryptocurrency.
- Stash – Stash is a personal finance app that is designed to help individuals budget, save, and invest. Stash gives users a Stash-back card, which gives users stock in places where they shop. Even better – the platform provides advice and educational messaging to help new investors learn the ropes.
- Acorns – Start small with Acorns. With the Acorns app, users’ spare change after purchases is invested. In other words, you invest without even thinking about it. Plus, when you use a connected credit or debit card to shop at certain retailers, Acorns will invest a percentage of your purchase into your Acorns Invest Account.
Open an account and play around.
Decide on how much money you will invest each quarter.
Turn Your Side Hustle into a Business
If you jumped into side hustling in 2020, 2021 may be the year to help it grow into a small business.
There are many tools available that make this possible.
Here are some ideas to consider.
- Fiverr – Work as a freelancer through the Fiverr platform. This unique platform allows sellers to post their skills and services starting at $5 and going all the way up to $10,000. If you have a sellable skill (writing, graphic design, social media marketer, musician, etc.), you can start earning money by booking jobs on Fiverr. Additionally, you can hire a professional via Fiverr if you are at the point in your business where you need extra help.
- Canva – There is no easier way to make professional-looking graphic designs for your business than Canva. This free program has tons of free or cheap templates for users to choose from that can be customized to meet your needs. Plus, if you have a knack for graphic design, you can create and sell your own Canva-made templates to other users.
- Bluehost – If you need a website for your side hustle, look no further than Bluehost. Bluehost is a trusted web hosting provider. It stands out because, while it is easy enough for beginners, it provides professional quality, including domain names, WordPress hosting, and 24/7 expert support.
Contribute More to a 401(k) or IRA
If your goal is to contribute more to a 401(k) or IRA in 2021, educate yourself.
Many people simply enroll in a 401(k) and don’t look back.
This is a mistake.
Instead, look at your 401(k) plan policy to make sure you are doing all you can to make your retirement dreams come true.
For instance, 2021 may be the year you make a goal to contribute the maximum your employer will match.
You can also sign up with 401(k) Maneuver, which provides professional accounts management to help employees grow their 401(k) account.
When you sign up with 401(k) Maneuver, your account is professionally managed to lower risks and improve account performance.
Break Quarterly Goals into Realistic Monthly Goals
After deciding which path to take, break your quarterly goals down into realistic monthly goals.
As mentioned above, aiming to lose 6 pounds in 3 months is easier than 24 pounds in a year.
Likewise, aiming to lose 2 pounds every month is even more effective.
In this same way, you can achieve your financial goals for 2021.
Rather than saying, I’m going to pay off my entire $6000 credit card debt in 2021.
Try saying, I’m going to use Bluehost to turn my side hustle into a business, aiming to bring in $1500 a quarter.
I’ll take money from my small business and apply the $500 I make each month and pay down my credit card debt.
Don’t Wait – Start Making Wise Choices Now
A new year is a fresh start, but you still want to avoid going into the new year with financial woes.
For example, don’t go into more debt this last quarter shopping for the holidays, and then have one of your financial goals for 2021 be to pay off Christmas 2020.
Make a budget for the last part of the year to help you avoid overspending in the last few weeks of 2020.
Check out Mint, a free online budget tool, that simplifies budgeting. Mint automatically will create a personalized budget based on your spending patterns.
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