The mailbox is full of bills, a kid just had a trip to urgent care that you’ll be paying for soon, and the car is in need of a repair. Now you are just hoping that there’s enough food in the pantry to get you through to the next paycheck.
But you know that you’re just going to find yourself running out of money again next time.
So what can you do to get ahead, when you feel like every day you’re just falling further and further behind?
Let’s talk about some money goals that you can set for yourself to make this mess a little neater. Don’t be discouraged! These are goals that people in nearly any financial situation can take advantage of.
Here are 7 Money Goals to Get Ahead in Life.
Give any of these 7 ideas a try. Make a change and get ahead in life.
What is it? A financial fast is a period of time where you try not to spend any money at all.
You choose the rules that match your situation the best.
- Clearly you’ll still need to pay the bills. If there are bills you struggle to pay, make a point to call. Set up a payment plan or ask about forgiveness if you are in a financial bind.
- What about food? Do you already have food hidden in the pantry and freezer that could be used to feed you for a period of time (with just a bit of creativity)?
- How long is the right period to challenge you a bit, but not discourage you?
If you have clutter and random food lying everywhere, you might try a month. If that sounds too daunting, go for a week. Or even just a couple of days.
At the end of that time, take a break and evaluate how it went.
- Is it something you benefited from and would like to repeat?
- Did it cause you to feel panicked and send you into a binge of spending afterwards?
If it’s the latter, you either need to change some of your rules or abandon this method for a better match for your personality.
The main point of the financial fast is not to postpone spending until the magical date you allow yourself to spend again. The point is to encourage you to get more creative when faced with a challenge.
When someone suddenly has to have a cowboy costume for the play in 2 days, look around the house for items rather than buying new. If it’s breakfast time and you’re out of milk, get creative and see what you have for a “good enough” meal.
Put “Found Money” to Work
We all have random bits of “found money” that we receive from time to time. Anything from finding a $5 bill on a sidewalk to receiving a refund check you weren’t anticipating to change gathering in the bottom of your purse.
What do you do with your found money? Many times we give ourselves a little splurge with this cash or just fold it into our checking account (where it winds up being spent on heaven only knows what).
But if you are intentional about this money and have already made a decision about where it will go, those pennies can add up to something great.
To start with, have a designated place to store your found money. It can be a mason jar, a piggy bank, or a dedicated bank account you open for just that type of stash. Just don’t fold it into your wallet with your regular spending money.
Now decide how you will put that money to work! What do you hope to accomplish right now? Some options include:
- create a sinking fund
- pay off debt (which you should always make a priority!)
- save up for a Christmas/birthday account
- save up for a vacation
- create a rainy day fund
- save until you have enough to invest
- use it to leave random acts of kindness around you
- fund your biggest hopes and dreams
While I think most people can do better with their budget than they think they can, it doesn’t hurt to increase the size of the pie you are cutting from.
Everyone should have more than one source of income. You might feel like you have a stable job, but many people have been surprised to have their company suddenly close and instantly find themselves without an income.
Getting more money doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be a lot. You can earn small amounts from various sources. Every bit helps!
There’s a variety of side hustles out there. You can do everything from getting a part time job to babysitting (regularly or just occasionally). The internet offers so many different ways to earn money.
- general transcription (Unlike medical transcription, general transcription does not require any type of special schooling. You do need to be able to type well and have a laptop. This is a job that requires real time and dedication and can’t be done on the fly with a child on your lap.)
- Swagbucks (I’ve talked about this one many times, but it’s such an easy way to earn Amazon money that I use it regularly and think you should, too!)
- Check out this post for a list of ideas to bring in extra cash.
Unfix Your Fixed Bills
We all have bills that we just automatically pay every month without thinking much about them. But many times those bills could be lowered with a few phone calls.
It literally pays to shop around once every couple of years on big bills such as:
- insurance (car, home, life)
- utility bills (look for another electric suppliers or trash services)
- phones (cell phones or landlines)
Even if you don’t want to switch companies, knowing the savings another company would give you is sometimes enough to make your current company bargain with you.
Read Spring Cleaning Your Finances to learn more.
If your dryer goes on the fritz, you can purchase a new one, hire a handyman, or learn how to fix it yourself. With a wealth of knowledge available on YouTube, it’s a great idea to try your hand at fixing the problem on your own.
If it works, you’ll have learned something new, feel great about yourself, and you can pocket the money you would have otherwise spent.
If it doesn’t work, you are only out the time you spent trying something new. At least you tried. You’ll still spend the same money with the repair guy.
Always Have Two Money Goals
When we are faced with a money goal that feels tedious, it’s often hard to stay focused and intense enough to see the goal through to the end. But if you have a second goal waiting on the other side of that first goal, that can give you something positive to keep you on track.
For example, let’s say that your tedious goal is to pay off a mountain of debt. With the average credit card debt in our country being $10,000 (source), it’s likely to take a while to get through that payment plan.
But if you have a great reason to get out of that debt (such as adding a second bathroom to your small home that holds 7 people), it can be enough to drive you through the monotony of working down the debt.
Basically, I can see my goal of adding on to my home through the goggles of paying off debt. And every time I make a payment on debt, my view gets just a little clearer.
The B Word
You probably don’t like it, but this list wouldn’t be complete without using the word “budget”. Even if you can’t handle the thought of a full on budget where you tell every single dollar what to do (it’s fun if you think of it that way…you’re the commander and your little soldier dollars work for you!), do a mini budget.
Start with just one part of your budget that you’d like to get under control. Do you eat out more than you’d like? Keep track of how much you spend on dining out all week. Then next week, challenge yourself to save some of that money. Pick an amount that seems doable, but stretches you just enough to keep yourself interested.
If you tend to use your debit card for most of your spending, I highly recommend Mint.com as a budgeting site. It automatically dumps your transactions into the proper category so you can see where your money is going at a glance. It takes little effort on your part to set up, and the bars turn yellow and red as you approach the limit you have set for a certain category.
Even if you only choose a couple of money goals from this list, you can slowly begin to improve your situation. Small change can become big change over time if you have a great attitude and the drive to succeed!
Check out the free 30 Day Money Challenge. I’ve designed this to help you find $500 to put into an emergency fund or sinking fund.
What money goals do you set for yourself?