Setting financial goals is an essential step on the way to financial success — whether it's putting money away for retirement, paying down debt, building up an emergency fund, saving for travel, or buying a home.
For Ciara Corley, from the Regions Next Step Project*, paying down her student loans and saving up for her doctorate were her biggest goals. Over the past year, she's made a plan and put it into practice. "I've been able to successfully pay down $2,000 of my student loans in less than a year, so I'm really happy about that," she says. "I've also learned how to keep track of my goals and to stay within my budget."
She offers these four tips to help you work toward your own financial goals.
1. Don't Wait to Get Started
While it's never too late to start setting financial goals for your future, there's no time like the present. Ciara suggests identifying your goal and writing down everything you need to do to achieve it. If your goal is to increase your savings, for instance, you may want to determine how much to save each month to reach your goal.
2. Ask for Help
When it comes to getting your finances organized, you don't have to go it alone. Sitting down with a financial professional, like a banker, can help you set financial goals and create a plan to reach them. You can talk through your financial plans for the future, whether you should save or pay off debt, and tips for managing your money at home and on the go. Ciara found a banker at her local branch who helped her identify her financial goals and make a plan to succeed. The banker was also able to suggest tools that Ciara could use to help her work toward her goals.
3. Treat Your Financial Goals Like a Project
Once you've documented your financial goals and how to achieve them, create a comprehensive plan for your long-term financial goals. Ciara learned that it was best to manage her financial goals as she would a project. "With a project, you have to take a step-by-step approach," she says. By focusing on each step, you'll be able to check off individual tasks or smaller goals one at a time, moving you toward your overall goal with every check.
4. Track Your Progress
Use online and mobile tools to get a clear picture of your financial health, track progress toward your financial goals, and even receive alerts when your account balance drops below a designated number. Ciara uses the Regions Mobile Banking app to access her account from anywhere to make sure she's staying on budget. You can also use financial calculators to manage your goals and improve your financial literacy. "When I first started working on my finances, I was definitely going over budget. I had no idea how to manage my finances," Corley says. "But now, it's less than a year later, and I'm really on track."
Learn more about taking the next step toward setting — and achieving — your financial goals.
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*Paid appearance by actual Regions customers telling their real story.