Things You'll Need
Know what's important to you by starting a spending log. Review all check, credit cards and debits to your bank account over the last few months to provide you a true picture of where you're at now. How you spend money is related to each of your own value systems. Couples and families set goals based on their values, yet money is among the top five reasons couples argue. Often, this means everybody's not really on the same page, and they have conflicting goals. Communication and compromise is key. If you are married, or otherwise a couple, sit down and create a list of your values and goals. Perhaps you can make a list of categories for things you currently spend money on and things you'd like to spend on in the future. Have each person rate the categories in order of importance to them. For the things you differ on, try to find a compromise. Children can be involved, as well. The more people who understand the common goal, the more likely the support.
Once you've gathered your goals, create action items with dates. A list of goals might include: pay off all credit card debt within three years; own your own home within five years; create
a college fund that matures within 10 years; and travel to Europe within 18 months. You should have short-, intermediate and long-term goals on your list, and your action items should coincide. To pay off credit card debt, an action item might be to commit to paying three times the minimum payment due for the next six months and minimizing additional charges. Your goals and action items should be realistically set and based on your current income. Know exactly what your monthly income and fixed expenses are before setting additional goals.
Review your list every three or four months and adjust accordingly. Perhaps you have set a goal to create an emergency fund of $2,000 and your action item is to put $200 per month into savings to achieve that goal. If your current finances prevent you from setting aside that much money, don't abandon the goal -- reduce it for now. And on the flip side, if you find you can easily add $200 to savings, maybe you decide to increase that amount to $300 per month, reaching your goal a little faster. Remember, it only takes three times of doing something for it to become a habit. The good habits you start today can help you manage your finances for a lifetime.