A new year is just around the corner. Do you have any financial goals in your New Year’s Resolutions? Are you hoping to clean up your money mess in the new year?
Setting financial goals is a common tradition at the beginning of every new year.
If you don’t know which money goals to choose, then this post will help you by sharing some money goals you may want to hit in the new year.
Setting Smart Financial Goals
Remember that goals without a plan are just dreams! You need to set smart goals and then create a plan to follow through with action.
S.M.A.R.T goals are:
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Assignable – specify who will do it.
- Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
If you want a printable to help you set goals and get organized, try this goal setting planner from my Etsy shop.
If you have big financial dreams you need to set goals for yourself and work toward achieving those goals. I share some time on both setting financial goals and working toward achieving those financial goals too. I know a lot of you watching this channel are dreaming of big things and hope to achieve them one day.
Make sure you are giving yourself the best chance at doing this by setting measurable goals that you can track!
Money Goals For A New Year
If you’re looking for financial goals to try out this new year, try some of the following.
Here are a few financial goals you could set for the new year:
Create A Financial Plan
Creating a financial plan for your life is a great goal to tackle in the new year.
With this goal you can work alone, with your partner, and with a financial planner if you choose.
You should pull together all your current financial information and assess where you currently are financially. Then you can create a plan to get you from that place to where you want to be.
This goal is great because it will take a long term and wide ranging view of your money situation. You can do this and use it to help with other goals on this list.
Save For Emergencies
Saving for emergencies is a critical step for any financial foundation. If you don’t have an emergency fund you are at the whim of any major unexpected expense that comes along.
For the new year you can set a goal to save up an emergency fund. If you’ve never saved before you can start with $1,000 as a goal and then move to one month’s expenses. This first buffer will get you off needing to forever go back into debt during a smaller emergency. This should always be done before you pay off debt.
You may also want to save up a larger emergency fund of 3 to 6 month’s expenses. If you have an unstable income that goal may need to be even higher.
Create A Budget
Budgets can have a bad reputation but you need to create some form of plan for your spending.
The best budgets are goals focused that allow you to live life while also hitting your big financial goals. This tends to motivate most people to stick with it.
In the new year while you are working on a budget you might want to try different methods like zero based budgeting, 50/30/20 budgeting, pay yourself first budgeting and more.
Pay Off Debt
Paying off debt is a very common goal during the new year. Each year my posts about paying off debt get a huge jump in views in January when people are setting the goal to finally pay off debt.
To make this your goal for the year you need to write out all of your debt and choose your method of paying it back. There are multiple debt payoff plans like the debt avalanche and debt snowball so feel free to pick whichever motivates you the most.
If you have high interest debt like credit cards then this should be your number one goal for the year. Interest rates on debt over 15% need to be an emergency and credit cards almost always charge this much. Make it your priority to get rid of the high interest debt as fast as possible.
Here are some helpful debt payoff resources to motivate you:
Save For Retirement
If you are not saving for retirement yet then you should likely start! This can be a great goal to work on for the new year. You can either start from scratch or increase your existing contributions.
When saving for retirement you should always start with the place that gives you the best advantage.
For most people this is a 401k with matching. If your company matches 4% of your 401k contributes then you need to contribute 4% of your salary. That is part of your compensation package or “free money” as people like to say.
From there you can evaluate where to stash away money next depending on your income and tax situation.
Not sure how much to save for retirement?
Here are some retirement calculators that can help you make a plan:
- Bankrate Retirement Calculator
- Nerd Wallet Retirement Calculator
- Vanguard Retirement Income Calculator
Those calculators can help you run the numbers and determine your goal for retirement savings.
You may also want to set a goal to invest beyond just retirement. Investing builds wealth and also protects your money against inflation.
For this goal you can learn about the various ways you can invest. There are many, many different ways to invest your money which often overwhelms people. Plan to look into investing options for a couple hours but don’t pursue every single option available.
Personally I like investing in index funds and I do so through M1 Finance which is easy to use and focused on long term investing. Each year I set a new investing goal in January. I’ve previously set a goal to invest $1,000 for the year and also $12,000 for another year. This goal can adjust based on other financial needs!
The biggest thing you can do with investing is to get started. There will be ups and downs but historically time in the market is the biggest key to success.
Here are some great books to read if you feel overwhelmed by investing:
Those books are classics that can help break down a very simple but effective investing strategy.
Save For A Home Down Payment
Saving for a home is a huge task but it’s a great goal to set with intention.
It’s also a very easy goal to make specific and measurable.
With this goal it is going to be about more than money. At the same time that you are saving you will also want to tackle other areas that will improve your chance to buy the right house.
If saving for a home is your goal you also want to:
- work on your credit
- improve your debt to income ration by paying down debt
- research home prices and neighborhoods
- contact realtors and lenders you may want to work with
For the actual savings aspect of this goal you will just need to create a sinking fund at a high yield savings bank. Then contribute to the savings goal throughout the year based on your numbers.
Are you a first time home buyer? Check out these helpful posts:
- First Time Home Buyer Tips
- 4 First Time Home Buyer Mistakes We Made
- Down Payment Savings Tracker Printable
Start A Side Hustle
New year, new money! Maybe this is the year you finally start your side hustle to bring in extra income for all of your financial goals.
Side hustles can help you make more money which makes all your other goals easier.
There are endless possibilities for side hustles and many can pay very well.
You should pick something that works with your existing skills, available time, and your interests. This will make it less of a chore and something you are more likely to stick with for a longer period.
Save For Your Kid’s Future
Parents have the responsibility to provide for their children and this can include saving for their future needs. Those future needs can include things like cars and college.
The great thing about saving for your child is that you can usually start when they are young and let the small amounts add up over time.
There are many different account types where you can save for your child:
- 529 Plan
- Custodial account
- High Yield Savings Account
- Taxable Brokerage Account
If you haven’t started saving for your child’s future needs then set that goal to get started for this year.
Invest In Yourself
The final goal you should consider for your new year’s resolutions is to invest in yourself.
Setting a goal to invest in your improvement in some way can be life changing this year. You can invest in yourself through education, your health, your business or other ways.
There are many ways to make an investment in yourself:
- buy a book for knowledge you need
- take a course to learn a skill
- sign up for mentorship to develop with professional guidance
- join a group for peer feedback and growth
- buy a gym membership to keep your body and mind sharp
It’s popular to treat yourself and hopefully one day it will be just as popular to invest in yourself.
All of these goals are great options to try out for the new year in order to improve your life financially. Often it can feel overwhelming to pick financial goals so I suggest beginners pick 1-3 main financial goals from the list. This gives you a good starting point of things you want to achieve in a year and you can always add more goals later!
Goal Setting Tips
Setting financial goals is very important to your long term financial success. Without the goals to build your plan you will be left without a guide for managing your money.
In order to set goals you’ll actually achieve, try some of these goal setting tips:
- Set specific goals that you can measure with numbers and dates
- Write down your goals
- Ideally put your written goals somewhere you can see them
- Track your progress often toward the goals
- Break each big goal into smaller goals and milestones
- Find accountability with yourself or others
If you do all that? You’re on your way to your most successful year yet!
Mary is the founder of Pennies Not Perfection where she shares her journey to build wealth through online income. She quit her day job in 2021 after she paid off her debt and doubled her 9-5 salary.
Mary's favorite free financial tool is Personal Capital. She uses their free tools to track net worth and work toward to financial freedom.