Make financial goals specific and measurable

  • Measuring progress: budgeting will tell you where every dollar of your income is going

    Measuring progress: budgeting will tell you where every dollar of your income is going


Dear Dave,

My wife and I have our budget ready for next month, and we’ll be following your plan in 2020 to pay off debt and get our finances in order. Do you have any tips for setting and sticking to goals in general?

— Rick

Dear Rick,

That’s a fantastic goal. Living on a monthly budget, and telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went, is an important step toward gaining control of your finances. Combine that with getting out of debt, and you’ll be in charge of your most powerful wealth-building tool — your income.

If you’re following my plan, you already have goals in front of you where your money is concerned. For most Americans, though, a new year means nothing more than new resolutions without real plans. Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to make resolutions and set goals, but you can’t stop there. You have to formulate a plan that turns your dreams into bite-sized pieces of progress that will gradually create a big event in your life. If you want to achieve your goals, then keep these next things in mind.

When setting goals, be very specific in what you want to achieve. Include steps that will help you get there, too. Being vague will only cause you to feel directionless and overwhelmed. Most people give up when these feelings arise.

Make your goals measurable. If you want to lose weight, don’t simply write down “lose weight” as a goal. Exactly how much weight do you want to lose? What will it take in terms of exercise and dietary changes to make it happen?

Are your goals your goals? Only you can realistically set your own goals. If your spouse, co-worker, or friend sets a goal for you, chances are you’re not going to achieve it. Taking ownership will give you more opportunity to meet your goal.

Also, set time limits for your goals. Putting a time frame in place will help you set realistic goals. If you want to save a certain amount of money for a particular event, break it down and determine how much cash you need to put into your savings account each month leading up to that event.

And finally, put your goals and resolutions in writing. Putting them in writing will make you more likely to achieve them. Write down your goals, and review them often. This will give you motivation to make them reality.

I believe this is the process for success, Rick. Successful people reassess their lives regularly, and start living intentionally, in writing, and on purpose. Happy new year!

— Dave

Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 16 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey

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Published Jan 4, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 3, 2020 at 6:48 pm)

Make financial goals specific and measurable

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