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How to Set Financial Goals You Can Keep

By Bennett Whitlock, CRPC®, Private Wealth Advisor

If you have a goal to improve your financial situation, there are ways you can break it down into steps that will keep you motivated and on track to achieve it. Here are some tips to help you set attainable goals.

Be specific and realistic. Setting aspirational goals, such as living the life you want in retirement or taking a coast-to-coast road trip, is exciting and can be a great place to start. Yet, broad goals can quickly become overwhelming, so tangible ones can help you keep the commitment. The best way to make your dreams a reality is to break each goal into small, specific tasks that are realistic to accomplish over 12 months.

Prioritize. You’re not alone if you have a myriad of financial goals. However, it can be hard to achieve them all without focus or unlimited resources. Pick one or two goals, and then tailor your savings, time and resources accordingly. If you have competing priorities, such as saving for your child’s education and retirement, create a plan that will help you make measurable progress toward both. Remember,
incremental changes (or savings) made over time can make a big difference in the long run.

Identify stumbling blocks. Strengthen your resolve by anticipating events and triggers that might derail you from your goals, such as overspending on dining out or purchasing that is outside of your budget. Be as specific as possible, and brainstorm strategies to overcome these potential obstacles.
This mental exercise will help you be more aware and better equipped to resist temptations.

Set deadlines. Without target dates in mind, timetables for completing goals tend to drift. As you set deadlines for each task, consider adding a reminder on your calendar, so you make the goal a priority throughout the year. If you fall short of what you want to accomplish, don’t give up. Adjust your dates
and get back on track.

Enlist family support. If you’re married or in a committed relationship, involve your spouse or partner in financial goal setting. If your goal is a family affair, consider including your children in the process. Your children can benefit from watching you make smart financial choices. With everyone on
the same page, you can support one another and overcome obstacles together.

Work with a professional. Share your goals with your financial advisor, tax professional or estate planner, as appropriate. These specialists may be able to suggest additional strategies to help you reach your goals, while being mindful of your other financial priorities.

Bennett Whitlock, CRPC ®, is a private wealth advisor and managing director with Whitlock Wealth Management, a franchise of Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. Learn more at or call 703-492-7732.

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