Figuring out your financial priorities may be trickier than you think. Obviously, you need to have enough to cover your basic needs – food, a place to sleep, and clothes. But where do you go from there? What do you need to spend your money on, and what do you want to spend your money on?
Like all forms of soul searching, setting financial goals can be scary, because essentially you are making a plan for your life. Do you want higher education? A nice house? A yearly vacation abroad? So often we save money for retirement or our kids’ college funds without really thinking what we want for ourselves. Having a place to live is an important basic need, but at what cost are you willing to have it fulfilled?
Learning to prioritize your finances may be challenging, but by asking these hard questions and following these simple steps you can easily get back on track!
• There is no time like the present. Don’t worry if you haven’t been saving money, paying off debt, or doing the things you enjoy. Just start now, the past has already happened. Start making steps to move forward, and everything will fall into place.
• Assess your life goals for the next 5, 10, and 20 years. Figure out what you want out of life and then consider what that means for your finances. Do you need to save money for a nice house or a Ph.D.? Or maybe you’d like to retire early and travel. Make sure you start planning ahead of time for what you want.
• Ask yourself what you regret about your life. Did you wish you played in a band, had a self-sustaining garden, or didn’t volunteer enough? Start making time for your hobbies, it will help you to reassess what is actually financially important to you.
• Create a budget to help stay on track. Also, by tracking everything you spend you will begin to realize what is financially important to you.
Taking a cold, hard look at your life can be the single scariest thing you can do, but it is so important. Figuring out your life priorities can lead you to figure out your financial ones. Most importantly, planning and prioritizing your priorities may lead you to a happier, more satisfying life.
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