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As the New Year approaches setting goals and making changes are on everyone’s minds. This fresh start is often a great time to finally accomplish the things you’ve always wanted to do but it can also be a really stressful time of the year where setting goals and making promises can lead to even more issues.

Since we want this year to be your most financially successful (this means something different for everyone) year yet, we’ve put together our top tips on how to set financial goal and then achieve them with as minimal stress as possible.

It Takes Time

The number one tip we can give you and probably the most important piece of information you should take away from this, is that achieving financial goals takes time. Whether you simply want to save a chunk of money to go on a vacation at the end of next year, start an emergency fund or your children’s education fund is at the top of your list, whatever goal you choose it will take time.

A vacation may only take you a few months or a year to save for, an emergency fund is something you can contribute to for the rest of your life and depending on how old your children are you could have up to twenty years to save. Whatever your goal is, write is down and then work at it slowly this way you’ll only need to make minimal changes to your daily life.

Find the Money in Your Monthly Budget

If you want to start saving up for something you need to find out where you can cut back. Typically this is in your monthly budget. Depending on the goal you’ve set for yourself and your income you’ll need to choose either one or a few things to cut back on:

  • Eating out can cost hundreds of dollars a month, cutting back on meals out will without a doubt help you achieve your financial goals.
  • Too many expensive nights out with your friends can and will make it almost impossible for you to save anything, cut back on either how much you spend or how often you go out.
  • Rethink your bills; are there any that cost way too much? Or are there services you’re currently paying for that you don’t absolutely need.

Whatever you choose to cut back on just remember that it will all be worth it when by the end of next year you either achieved your goal or are on your way to achieving it.

Make More Money

Besides cutting back to save up, making more money is the next best way to achieving your financial goals. While this might not be logistically possible for everyone, if you do have the extra time a second income source could help you make all the extra cash you need.

Consider taking on more hours if the kind of job you have allows that, look for a night job or a weekend job or look into working from home in your free time. You could also think about selling items you own but don’t use anymore.

Just remember that choosing to make more money instead of or on top of cutting back on spending takes time, making money is a time commitment so if you’re already stretched to your limits it might not be the best option for you and your lifestyle.

Start Out Slowly

There is nothing worse than starting out strong and then burning out after only a few months. Goals are easy to forget or ignore after a long day or a particularly hard week, starting out slowly will hopefully allow you to avoid the inevitable burnout of trying to cut back or save more or earn more.

However you choose to achieve your financial goals don’t put too much pressure on yourself at the beginning. Make small changes at first, try skipping a one or two meals out a week or take on 3-5 next hours at your job, these smaller changes are easier to sustain over longer periods of time and can be added on to. So after a few months you can add on more hours and cut back even more on your spending and it won’t seem like such a huge change.

Click here to learn all about why budgets fail and how to avoid these pitfalls.

Don’t Wait to Start

While this time of the year is without a doubt a great time to set a few goals you also shouldn’t use it as an excuse to wait until a certain day at a certain time to start. The only thing better than setting goals for yourself in the New Year is getting a head start on those goals so you’re already on your way to achieving them by the time the ball drops at midnight.

Caitlin Wood, BA avatar on Loans Canada
Caitlin Wood, BA

Caitlin Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Loans Canada and specializes in personal finance. She is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University and has been working in the personal finance industry for over eight years. Caitlin has covered various subjects such as debt, credit, and loans. Her work has been published on Zoocasa, GoDaddy, and deBanked. She believes that education and knowledge are the two most important factors in the creation of healthy financial habits. She also believes that openly discussing money and credit, and the responsibilities that come with them can lead to better decisions and a greater sense of financial security.

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