As a Christian, my hope is in the Lord, who holds my life in His hands. As a writer, I hope people buy my books and read my blogs. As the owner of short-term rental property, I hope that vacationers decide to stay at my home. But, as a small business consultant, I share with my clients the mantra, “Hope is not a plan.”
Hope is essential to taking risks and moving forward with new opportunities in your life. However, hope does not bring me readers or renters. I must take action to inform potential readers of my books and blogs and potential renters of my property. Those actions involve effort, such as marketing, advertising, and asking for reviews.
If you are trying to achieve a financial goal, hope will not help you to accomplish your goal. You need to have a plan:
- If you want to purchase a new home or car, you need a plan to accumulate the down payment.
- If you want to get out of debt, you need a plan to start paying off one debt while meeting the minimum obligations on your other debts.
- If you would like to retire early, you need to start putting money into a retirement account at an early age and be consistent in making contributions.
- If you want to improve your credit score, you need to obtain your credit report and assess what debts need to be paid off, what errors need to be corrected, and what steps you can take to reduce your total amount of debt.
- If you want to start your own business, you must maintain a high credit score and set aside money to invest in your business.
- If you want to start budgeting, you need to research and evaluate budgeting tools to determine which one you will actually use.
Key Factors of a Plan to Accomplish a Financial Goal:
- Live below your means. If you want to save money for any reason, or if you’re going to pay down debt, you must spend less than you make. This requires you to know what you spend and evaluate where to make cuts.
- Write down your goals. Studies show that writing down your goals significantly increases your chances of achieving them.
- Have an accountability partner. If you are married, you and your spouse should hold each other mutually accountable. If you are unmarried, ask a friend to be your accountability partner. Hold each other accountable by encouraging each other and reminding yourselves that money spent cannot be used to meet your goal.
- Celebrate milestones. Give yourself a pat on the back when you hit an intermediate milestone, such as paying off a debt or saving a certain amount of money. Milestone celebrations should be free or low-cost to keep you on track to achieve your goal.
- Make it easy to save. Set up payroll deductions for retirement or other savings so you never have access to the money. Download a budgeting tool that makes it easy for you to track your spending. Avoid “window shopping,” which increases your desire for items you do not really need.
- Keep your goal in front of you. Have a picture of your dream home or car on your refrigerator. Write your business plan and look around for possible locations. Develop a bucket list of all the fun things you will do in retirement.
- Evaluate your progress periodically, and if you have gotten off track, take action to correct your mistakes and get back on the right track.
Your plan does not have to be complicated to be effective. Start dreaming, set a goal, and develop a plan to reach that goal.
Setting and achieving financial goals helps you honor God in how you use and manage the financial resources He has entrusted to you. It also allows you to build treasure in Heaven. For more tips to help you manage your financial resources, please see my other blogs in the Finance tab. My book, Honoring God with Your Money, is full of guidelines to help you use money in a way that builds true wealth.
If you have never accepted Christ as your Savior, please consider accepting the free gift of salvation from your sins and eternal life in Heaven. It will pay dividends for all of eternity.