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What Are Your Financial Priorities?

Michelle —  September 17, 2012 — 1 Comment

Everyone has some sort of financial priority in their life.  Setting priorities can be very good for a person or a family. If you know what you are striving for, then you most likely will try a little harder and put more effort towards it.

Without priorities, then everything would be all over the place. How would a person even know where to start, where to end, when things are going run, etc.? How will individuals know when to celebrate completing a goal as well?

Maybe you want to eliminate all of your debt, give a higher percentage of your income to charity, go to school, pay off your house, retire early or just have financial freedom. Each person is different in how they value different things in their life, and their different financial priorities. One thing to keep in mind that even if financial priorities are similar, you shouldn’t always compare yourself to others. Different people complete their goals differently of course.

How to set financial priorities for yourself:

1. Decide what you value the most.

Make a list of what’s important to you. You probably have a very long list of things that you want to accomplish. What honestly cannot wait another second? Try to determine what should be done first and what can wait a little while.  You can sort through the rest of the financial things you need to do as well, and maybe you can contribute to the rest equally but put most of your might to your top priorities.

Think about your future and think about where you want to be and what you want to have done. This is the first step!

2. Let people join you.

If there are others, such as family and friends, who might have similar priorities as you, then let them join you. You and them can most likely push each other to achieve your similar goals. Talking about things out loud can also be helpful.

Also, sit down with your family to make sure that everyone is on the same page. If everyone agrees on the financial priority, it will make it much easier, and of course, much less arguments.

3. Make sure your goal or goals are possible and realistic.

Creating a goal of paying off all your debt in one year when you know it’s absolutely not possible, then it’s probably not a SMART goal. A smart goal is specific, measurable, achievable, rewarding and track-able.

If your goal is not possible, then you are most likely spending way too much time (and wasting time) on something that will not work out in the end. And then you are also sidetracking other goals that you should be working on as well.

Instead of trying to pay off your debt right away, plan to make more money this year to begin repaying it. This goal could involve upgrading your education so that you can start applying for more lucrative positions or completely change your career.

For example, if you currently work in the nonprofit sector and would like to advance within the industry, earning a Graduate Certificate in Project Monitoring could be exactly what you need. Once you have this additional education, it will become much easier to reach your other financial goals because you can command a much higher salary.

4. Keep track and always adjust.

You should constantly be keeping track of your goals. Try to set maybe a certain time for when you will track how you are doing. Maybe daily (if you want to be very on track), weekly, monthly or some other amount of time.

This way, if something does happen to be OFF track, then you can try to adjust it. It’s of course much better than waiting to see how you’re doing a year later and figuring out that you are way off track what you wanted to be.

5. Be prepared for things that will throw you off track.

In the end, something will most likely come up. If something sidetracks your goal or priority for a little bit, don’t let it ruin everything. Realize that things will come up and not everything can be scheduled perfectly.

What are your priorities?

What’s on the back-burner for you now?

Are you overwhelmed by how difficult it seems to plan for your future? Do you find yourself wishing it were easier to get ahead? For those of us who don’t make a lot of money, it may be hard to save up an emergency fund or a cushion for the expenses in life that sneak up on us. People preach about having money in reserve for these unexpected expenses, but in reality, it’s much harder to do.

Yet, that doesn’t mean it is impossible nor important. Putting money aside for these type of expenses is very important because it keeps you from digging a whole. While not all debt is evil, it is important to avoid the cyclical nature of it.

Limited Options Without an Emergency Fund

People without an emergency fund saved up are left with fewer options. For those who don’t already know this, fewer options is usually a bad thing. It forces you to make decisions that you may regret later. The more options you have, the more possibilities of selecting a “good” option and not just one that is the best of bad decisions.

Borrowing Money: If we are honest, most people, when faced with an unexpected expenses, are forced to borrow money. The people who are smart enough to limit their negative impact will often reach out to friends and family first. Friends and family are there for these type of emergencies and should be considered before things like payday loans online, but they won’t solve all of your problems. In fact, asking family members for money too often will often ruin the relationship. There are many reputable companies that offer bad credit loans so if you need to, do some research online and try to find a good local company that has a good reputation.

Bad Credit / Collections: The only other option available is to let the expense go unpaid. This will often result in it going to collections and this can ruin your credit for a long time. While you may be left with little or no options, you want to do everything you can to avoid this option.

Be Pro-active!

The best thing you can do is to be pro-active. It sounds like every other advice out there, but it so true. Don’t wait for an emergency to pop up. This means starting with spending less than you make. If you spend every dollar of your paycheck, how are you going to afford the future expenses that are bigger than the paychecks? Not to mention, continuing to pay for the ongoing expenses like rent or insurance.

Start by saving just a little bit at a time. I think if you can see yourself saving a little, you will not only feel more comfortable in yourself, but you will realize how much MORE you need to save.

Stop giving yourself limited options in life. Take control of your finances and act today.