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9 Week Financial Challenge – Week 6

Everyone should have goals. Achieving your financial goals is a critical aspect of becoming financially independent.

During Week 1 of the financial challenge, we developed goals and action plans. This week, it is time to step on the financial scale to see if the hard work has paid off.

Most likely, everyone has seen some success but there is room for improvement. Don’t worry, we have tips on how to refine your goals and to how to use visual management to improve your results.

This article is part of our 9 Week Financial Challenge Series. The challenge is not a one-week boot camp that “fixes” all our problems.  No, we know that does not work.   This is about long-term financial wellness. The 9 Week Financial Challenge Series covers:

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

Though not required, we do recommend starting the series at Week 1: Achieving Your Financial Bucket List.

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.

Week 6: Achieving Your Financial Goals

During Week 1, we developed a Financial Top Bucket List. From our Top Bucket List, we created SMART goals with action plans.  The goals and plans are measurable in order to determine our success.  Today, we look back and determine if we are indeed achieving our financial goals. 

Start by completing the Check Progress Worksheet in the 9-Week Financial Challenge Workbook.  After reviewing your progress, answer the following….

How Are You Progressing?

Most people respond with one of three answers:  Don’t Ask, OK, and Fantastic

Let’s discuss all three responses.  We strongly recommend reading the response to each answer as the tips (and recommendations) might surprise you.  

How are You Progressing Response: Don’t Ask

Here is a good thing. You are still reading and have not given up. High Five. Let’s talk through where the issues might be for you.

The goal just is not a high enough priority

The goal we do not accomplish is typically the most tedious, restrictive and time-consuming.  We give up and justify our position by considering the goal just too hard. 

Is the goal really a high priority? Have you done everything in your power to accomplish the goal?  Are you sure?

If the answer is the goal just isn’t as important, it is time to go back to the drawing board and redefine your crazy important goal.

If the answer is the goal is a high priority and you are working really hard to achieve it, consider these additional bullet points.

The Goal is not completely SMART

  1. Are you being truly realistic (the R in SMART) about attaining your goal based on your current situation? 
  2. Are there any other goals in conflict with this goal making it unattainable?
  3. Is the action plan inadequate to attain the goal? Without a plan to achieve your goals, you only have dreams and wishes.  Is your plan robust enough to really accomplish your goals?
  4. How realistic is the action plan? The plan may have all the actions/tasks with due dates, but the tasks are too big. 

Adjust your goals to make the goals SMART. Remember, it takes time to learn how to set goals that you can achieve. Just because the goal does not eliminate all your debt in three weeks does not make the goal less lofty. Everyone needs to work at different speeds and that is ok.

The plan does not build lasting habits 

Saving money plans are like the race between the tortoise and hare.  The tortoise’s plan gets quick results (example: completing 4 no-spend weekends in a row), but the hare’s plan is more habit-forming (example: learns to develop a meal plan schedule). 

It is the boring tortoise that plugs along and consistently moves forwards that wins the race.  The tortoise plan leads to life-altering changes that have a long-lasting impact.  Focus on developing better habits.

No support

It is nearly impossible to achieve financial goals without support.  If your support team is not on board, it is 100%+ harder to achieve your goals.  Trying to save money with friends or a spouse who always wants to shop is difficult. 

You need a support system. If your current support system is failing you, look for different friends (or spouse…just joking) to support you in this journey.

Beating yourself up and not celebrating

Stop it now.  Get up and try again.  We are all human (I think) and are prone to making mistakes.  Learn from it and move forward.  There is no time machine to go back and correct the past. Celebrate milestones.  It is important to recognize success and not just focus on the difficult road ahead.

Education

This should probably be #1, but I did not want to give the easy out.  Sometimes we just don’t know enough to address your goal.  This is when visiting a financial advisor might really help. 

Next Step for the Don’t Ask Response

The next step for the DON’T ASK answer is to re-evaluate your goals and plans.  Don’t let excuses prevent you from accomplishing your goals.  And ask yourself this question:

Are your goals still critically important? 

If no, change your goals.

If the answer is yes, try adjusting your plans based on your recent experience and making the plans more relevant. 

After you feel comfortable with your goals and plans, read on to see the recommendations for “Fantastic” and “Situation OK”.

Everyone should have financial goals. Achieving your financial goals is a critical aspect of becoming financially independent.
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How are You Progressing Response: Fantastic

Congratulations!!

But are your goals were lofty enough?

Can you do more? 

If you have been diligent and really focused, keep it up.  Awesome job!  

If your goals are a little soft, take the time to review and make your goals more challenging.  Either way, read on as we have a few ideas to consider in “How are you progressing response: OK”.

How are You Progressing Response: OK

We hope most people fall into this category.  It is important to have some success.  At the same time, we don’t want everything to be easy as overcoming setbacks is important. 

For many, there is at least one goal that you are meeting and another goal that is not as successful.  Read through the “Don’t Ask” section again and now revisit your goals and plans. Are there modifications that can be made?

Next Steps for How are You Progressing Response: OK

Sometimes after working for months on a goal that is difficult, motivation becomes an issue. Here are a few motivation ideas including using visual management techniques.

1. Posting your goals

Keep your goals on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator or where you sit to do your financial paperwork.    The purpose is to look at and think about your goals every day.  The posting is a daily reminder.

2. Develop and Post Charts and Tables for Key Metrics for obtaining your goals

Examples of Charts and Tables:

  • A chart tracking your savings or debt reduction
  • Pie Graph of where your spend is today and where you want it to be in a month
  • A cross-off sheet where you literally cross off your debt
  • There are a few visual examples in the 9-Week Financial Challenge Workbook under Visual Management.

3. Create a Vision Board

This can be a simple as a piece of paper with cutout pictures from magazines/computer printouts of where you want to be in 5-10 years. 

If your goal is to take a beach vacation next year, take a picture of a beach.  If your goal is to own a house, you get the picture.   Go as simple or creative as you want.  It is your vision.

4. Start a Bullet Journal

Journals can help keep us motivated. Whippersnapper Finance’s Pinterest board has some great examples from some extremely creative people. In other words, bullet journals not created by Whippersnapper Finance!

5. Let people know your goals and plans

Verbalizing your goals and plans increases the likelihood of completion.  Tell a friend that is in a similar situation and hopefully you can both support each other during this journey. 

6. Find a mentor

Start the conversation with someone who is financially stable or has been through your situation before.   Their advice and support can really help in keeping you on track.

Summary

Completing a financial progress check is always wise.  You are wise!   At a minimum, complete a financial progress check every 6-months. 

Setbacks occur when trying to achieve financial goals.  If you never have a setback, your goals are probably not challenging enough.  Goals are supposed to push you to the next level.

The key is to understand why the setback occurred and how to adjust your plan to succeed next time.  All the reasons for not accomplishing our financial goals are within our control to address. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t just let your finances control you.  You control your finances. Keep focusing, adjust goals and action plans and move forward.
  • Address your financial pitfalls.  If something is not working, change it and try something new.  Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is well crazy.
  • Use visual management tool.  These tools have been proven to work. 

We always appreciate people sharing our articles and hearing back from our readers. Let us know how you are doing on your financial independence journey. You got this!

Good Luck, Whippersnapper Finance

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