The best way to keep track of your goals and to maintain accountability is by keeping a budget. In fact, having a budget and tracking your expenses are essential if you want to maximize your success. Think about it, if you were to see a small business or large corporation that operated without a budget, it would be an easy bet that company wouldn't last very long. But for some reason, many people don’t think that personal financial success requires the same diligence.
There are several ways to create a budget, but it’s most important that you find what works best for you. Too many people start something that just doesn’t work and instead of looking for alternatives, they just give up. But there are several resources to help people find out what would fit best for them.
It’s also important to include your family in the planning. Including your children in the discussions of family finance can help them understand the significance of budgeting and goal-setting, and it can also help them learn the value of money. Learn how to create a budget and you’re one step closer to your goals.
Meet with a professional
Even after reading about setting financial goals and creating a plan, many people can still benefit from having professional advice, not because they can’t figure it out themselves, rather because it’s good to have a professional set of eyes to help you see the big picture, identify your priorities and give you counsel on the best way to leverage your actions to reach your goals.
Many people are afraid to meet with a financial adviser because they’re not familiar with the way advisers are paid or they don’t know if they can trust them. There are many advisers who will do the planning part for free, and you are not obligated to use their services. If you’re afraid of wondering who you can trust, ask your friends if they have a financial adviser. Chances are you have a friend or family member who has one they trust.
Be the change
After all is said and done, the most important thing you can do this year to jump-start your financial plan is to be "the change" in your finances. Just like any other resolution, you can work through each of these steps and still not see any difference. The key is to use your plan to change your nature, not just temporarily alter your behavior. In order to reach your goals, it’s very likely that there are parts of your lifestyle that need to change, and following a simple checklist just isn’t going to cut it.
Keep this in mind as you are setting goals and making plans. Create something that will motivate you to make changes now and to sustain those changes over the long term. As you do that, 2014 can have the potential to be a great year.
Ben Luthi is a personal finance blogger and banker who blogs regularly at The Wealth Gospel. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and currently resides in Arkansas with his wife, Kilee.
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