Money Basics

Simple Financial Goals

Attention is expensive. I won’t waste yours—at least not today. If you strive for these ten financial goals, your life will improve. It’s a simple guarantee.

Build an emergency fund. It’s a safety net when life knocks you off the tight rope.

Create a budget. Spend according to that budget. Here’s how the experts do it. I use YNAB**. It’s fantastic.

In debt? Make a payoff plan. Debt is a monkey sitting on your chest, stealing your hard-earned bananas cash.

Track your progress. Use comparisons to your advantage e.g. average net worth by age. Are you where you want to be?

Know your long-term goals e.g. retirement. Make a plan to get there. Start now–the math supports you. Focus on your tax-advantaged accounts, such as a 401(k) or IRA.

Some spending fulfills you. Some does not. Maximize the former and minimize the latter. Consider the fulfillment curve.

Plan for the foreseeable future. The next car, next house, college education, etc. You know next Christmas is coming—plan for it now.

The “secret sauce” is actually simple. Understand the simple ways people accumulate wealth.

Goals are great, but make sure you enjoy the journey. Don’t hike the mountain only to check it off the list.

Turn financial behaviors into permanent habits. I have a YNAB habit. I have an investing habit. These behaviors are “inside my circle.”

That’s it. Ten financial goals you can start on today. Did I miss something obvious? Let me know below.

**Note: you and I both get a free month of YNAB if you end up signing yourself (or someone else) up with the link above. No extra cost to anyone involved. You get a 34-day trial, and then an additional free month. That’s two months to figure out if you like it.

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About Jesse Cramer

Jesse Cramer created The Best Interest to explain personal finance and investing in simple terms. His writing has been featured by CNBC, MSN, The Motley Fool, and other national publications. He resides in Rochester, NY with his girlfriend and their dog. Follow him on Twitter: @BestInterest_JC
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4 thoughts on “Simple Financial Goals

  1. Jesse,

    Your point about fulfillment and the journey are perhaps the most understated and important. In terms of a financial journey, it’s incredibly important to work through all the details you mentioned: budgeting, planning, saving. But, ultimately, we all need to be saving *for* something. You don’t want to reach financial independence and then look back and wonder what it was all for: build the life you want, then save for it.


    1. Hey Chris, right on! I’ve read, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” But the point you make (which I agree with) is that a plan without a goal isn’t very useful either. Thanks for reading!

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