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9 Week Financial Challenge Series – Week 1

Achieving your financial bucket list is within your reach. Week 1 focuses on setting crazy goals and executing fabulous action plans. This week is about setting the foundation for building strong financial habits!

This 9 Week Financial Challenge Series is not a one-week boot camp that “fixes” all your problems.  No, we know that does not work.   Week 1 is a foundation that we will build on during this 9 Week Challenge.

Remember, this is about long-term financial wellness. Financial wellness is arguably as important as health and relationship wellness. 

Goal of 9 Week Financial Challenge

The goal of this challenge is to hit different aspects of financial health over the 9 Week Challenge.  It is about habit forming and taking a step change in our financial health in just over 2 months. 

Will it be hard? Yes…the word CHALLENGE is in the title, but it will be worth it. 

9 Week Financial Challenge Plan

WEEKChallenge Article
1 ACHIEVING YOUR FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST
2 START PAYING OFF DEBT and SAVING MONEY
3 DECLUTTER and MAKE MONEY
4 CUT THOSE MONTHLY EXPENSES
5 HOW TO REDUCE SPENDING ON FOOD
6ACHIEVING YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS
7 MAKING MONEY by INVESTING in YOU
8 INVESTING TIPS for BEGINNERS
9 DREAMS, GOALS and FINANCIAL NEXT STEPS

There is a free workbook to assist you during this challenge (almost 30 pages of goodness).  Please sign up via email to receive the 9 Week Financial Challenge Workbook.  Do not worry.  No spamming of emails from us.  Promise.  Remember the workbook is free and it really helps.

We are going to cover many different aspects of finance.  Some weeks will be easier than others. Some weeks you will want to quit.  Do NOT do that!  Hang in there.

If you do struggle, it is okay to do a week again.  This is about your long-term financial health.  Just like a workout program, start again if you cheat.  It is always better not to have a cheat week!

Week 1 Challenge: Achieving Your Financial Bucket List

This is a big challenge and can be overwhelming, so it is broken down into 9 baby steps.

  1. CREATE A FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST
  2. SORT THE FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST
  3. HIGHLIGHT and CATEGORIZE the FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST
  4. QUESTION YOUR FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST PRIORITIES
  5. CREATE TOP FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST
  6. PRIORITIZE TOP FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST
  7. FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST GOAL SETTING
  8. FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST GOAL VALIDATION
  9. CREATE A MEANINGFUL ACTION PLAN

Additionally, don’t do the entire challenge in one sitting.  Consider taking a break between Steps 2 and 3. Take another break between Steps 6 and 7 and one last break between Steps 8 and 9.

Investing for Beginners includes saving money, frugal living, and investing #investingforbeginners #financialbucketlist
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STEP 1: CREATE A FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST

Let’s start with the obvious, what is a financial bucket list? 

It is everything you need and dream of accomplishing that will take financial planning.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Own a house
  2. Own a car
  3. Retire at 55
  4. Move out of your parents’ home
  5. Pay off your student loans
  6. Pay for your kids to go to college
  7. Start your own business
  8. Get out of debt
  9. Have a crazy awesome vacation
  10. Get married
  11. Have an emergency fund

The most important thing is this is your financial bucket list to achieve. 

  • Use the Financial Bucket List Worksheet (worksheet #1) that you have received free from signing up via email to create your Financial Bucket List. 
  • Take about 30 minutes and write down every crazy thought in your head.   Do not worry about how attainable the bucket list is at this time.  The goal is to come up with a crazy long list. 

Yes, you can add to it later as better ideas come up.  In fact, you have a whole week to complete this challenge, so no pressure on the 30 minutes. 

STEP 2: SORT THE FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST

Hopefully, the list is crazy good.  It is probably overwhelming and that is okay.

  • Mark in the appropriate columns when you want to achieve that specific bucket list item: 
  • Short-term (less than 5 years out)
  • Mid-term (between 5 and 10 years out), or
  • Long-term (over ten years out)
  • Total the columns to determine how many bucket list items fall into each length of time.

You have accomplished quite a bit today.  Take a break.  If you are on a roll, keep going to Step 3.

STEP 3: HIGHLIGHT and CATEGORIZE the FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST

  • Highlight the short term, mid-term, and long-term bucket list items in three different colors. 
  • Rank each highlight categories based on your importance to complete. 

At this point your Financial Bucket List Worksheet should be a highlighted, marked up hot mess. 

It is time to move on to STEP 4.

STEP 4: QUESTION YOUR FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST PRIORITIES

Look at the top 3 bucket list items in the short, mid, and long term categories.  Are these really your top priorities?  

Can you live with only addressing the Top 3 in each time length category?   Can any of the bucket list items be combined?   

Remember that just because a bucket list item did not make the cut today.  It does not mean that it won’t in the future.   Priorities do change over time.

STEP 5: CREATE TOP FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST

If you feel comfortable with the Top 3 in each category write those bucket list items on the Top Bucket List Worksheet (worksheet #2).   This is the list that means everything to your financial health.

If there are items that won’t make your life better on this list, cross the items off the list now.  It is obviously not that important.

If you are not excited about accomplishing any of the items, cross the items off the list.   Do it now.  Seriously.

If there is one financial item that is totally consuming you (for example college debt), it is okay for it to be the only thing on this list.   Remember this is your list and not someone else’s list.  This is about you and lifting weight off your shoulders and not about what other people think.

You always have the Financial Bucket List Worksheet available to refer to later, so no harm.

STEP 6: PRIORITIZE TOP FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST

Re-look at your Top Bucket List Worksheet.  At this point, there is somewhere between 1 and 9 items on the worksheet.  Prioritize this list again from 1 to 9. 

When prioritizing, consider what needs to happen before other items on the list.  For example, building an emergency fund should come before starting to invest.  Getting out of credit card debt should happen before saving for a house. 

It would be ideal if there was a priority in each timeframe (short, mid and long), but it might not make sense right now. 

Take a break at this point as Step 7 is time-consuming.  Hang in there. This is a necessary evil to achieving our financial bucket lists.

STEP 7: FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST GOAL SETTING

Highlight the Top 3 items that you prioritized in Step 6.  This is where we are going to focus for the next 9 Weeks. 

Now is the time to write SMART goals for the Top 3 items only using SMART Goals Worksheet (worksheet #3). 

Why develop a SMART goal?

Simply, people do not accomplish their goals.  Adding some structure regarding how to create an achievable goal increases the likelihood of success. We use SMART Goals because this methodology has repeatedly worked for many people.  We want success.

What is a SMART Goal

A SMART goal is a goal that meets the following criteria:

Specific:  Can you very clearly state what is to be accomplish?   If you cannot state what you are trying to accomplish, it is unlikely your goal will be accomplished.

Measurable:  Can you measure what you are trying to achieve?  Saying that you want to be rich is not defined.  What does rich mean to you?  Is it having $10 in your pocket, or $100,000 in your bank account or owning a mansion?

Attainable:   With your resources, can you achieve this goal?  Can you act on this goal? Being a billionaire is probably not achievable on a $60K per year salary even if you get a side hustle. 

Realistic:   Is it relevant to your financial journey and becoming financially independent?  Buying a mansion may be attainable someday, but it is probably not a realistic goal for many of us today.   

Timebound: How long will it take to achieve your goal?   It is important to hold yourself accountable.  Part of making a goal is setting a time limit to accomplish.

Example of a SMART GOAL

SMART Goal Example:  Reduce my college debt by $10K in the next 24 months.

Specific:  Addresses my college debt

Measurable:  Reduce debt by $10K.  We will use my month statement to track progress.

Attainable:  This goal equates to roughly $100/week in savings.   This is aggressive with my current budget.

Realistic:   Yes, it is relevant to my financial independence

Timebound:   24 months is the time limit. 

Last Question:  Is it a challenge?  Yes, it would be much easier to accomplish this goal in 36 months. 

STEP 8: FINANCIAL BUCKET LIST GOAL VALIDATION

Make sure that your SMART Bucket List Financial Goals are not in conflict. 

What does that mean? 

If you have three savings goals, can you really achieve all three at the same time?  Do you need to adjust the savings amount in your goals to make them attainable?  

Make those adjustments now.

Take a quick break.  Step 9 is going to take creativity and tough compromises.

STEP 9: CREATE A MEANINGFUL ACTION PLAN

It is time to create an action plan for how you will achieve your goals. 

For each goal, create a minimum of 3 action items.  Write down your plan on your SMART Goals Worksheet (worksheet #3). 

At this point, you may be stumped on how to achieve your goal.  How do you develop a plan that will work? 

Below are a few thoughts to start your creative juices flowing.  Let’s use the example above of saving $100/week requirement to reduce my college debt by $10,000 in 24 months.

Example of a Goal with an Action Plan

Reduce my college debt by $10K in the next 24 months. (Need an additional $100/week to pay off debt)

  • Take lunch to work one day per week (saving $10/week)
  • Work overtime (or get side job) a few hours per week (earning $50/week)
  • Only go out one night per weekend (savings $40/week)
  • Start meal planning and using coupons (savings $10/week)

Yes, achieving the goal is going to be a challenge.  It is also going to require sacrifice.  There is no way around it, but the reward is worth it.  Your financial independence is worth it. 

The reason many fail at achieving goals is the goal is just not that important.  Make sure your goals are truly important and you are committed to achieving the goals.  After all, these are your financial bucket list goals and only you can achieve these goals.  If you tell people your goals, you are more like to achieve the goals as others can help hold you accountable.

Summary

Thanks for hanging in there.  Goal setting and action plan development are critically important to achieving your financial bucket list.  Challenge 1 sets the stage for the remaining weeks. 

It is never too early to start executing your plan to obtain your goals. I recommend starting now in achieving your financial bucket list goals.  It is never too early to obtain your dreams!

Below are some other articles you may find beneficial.  If you have a question or thought, feel free to use the comment section or email us directly through the Contact Page.  

Pin this article for later reference as there is a lot in this article to remember.  Get ready for Challenge 2, Start Paying Off Debt and Saving Money.  You got this! 

Good Luck, Whippersnapper!

READ ON!

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