If I’m being honest, I haven’t always had my financial shit together. I spent much of my twenties struggling financially and waiting for things to turn around.
But like other areas of your life, you aren’t likely to succeed financially without having direction and something specific to work toward. And once I started getting specific with my financial goals, I actually started achieving them. Slowly but surely, my financial life turned around.
Setting financial goals can be easier said than done. If you’re new to working on your finances, you may not know just where to start. To help you start your money journey, I’m sharing a list of financial goals to set for yourself to make 2023 your best year ever.
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Short-term financial goals vs. long-term financial goals
Before we dive into the list of financial goals to set, let’s talk about the two types of financial goals: short-term and long-term goals.
Short-term goals are more immediate and will probably be a priority in your budget. They can include goals that range from just a few months away to several months away.
Long-term financial goals, on the other hand, are generally at least five years out. Some can even take decades to reach, such as retirement or buying your dream home. You may have some long-term goals you haven’t even started saving for yet, and that’s okay.
It’s important to know whether your goals are short-term or long-term. Not only is it helpful to have a realistic expectation for when you can reach your goal, but it also helps determine how you’ll prioritize, save, and invest for them.
Financial goals to set in 2023
1. CREATE (AND STICK TO) A BUDGET
I’m pretty sure all of us, at some point, have hoped we could get our finances in order without a budget. But I’ve got some bad news for you: budgeting is the very cornerstone of reaching just about any other financial goal.
When I first started working on my finances, I tried and failed at budgeting several times. But once I found the right method, it all came together.
Not sure where to start on your budget? Here are a few articles that can help:
2. BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND
Buiding an emergency fund should be one of the first financial goals you work on when you start getting your finances in order. In fact, it will make all of your other goals more achievable, because it will ensure that an unexpected financial emergency doesn’t completely derail your plans.
An emergency fund is designed for two purposes. First, it can help you cover any unplanned expenses. Second, it can help replace your income temporarily if you lose your job.
Not sure how much to save? A general rule of thumb is that you should save between three and six months of your monthly expenses.
3. READ A PERSONAL FINANCE BOOK
When I started working on my finances, one of the first things I did was choose a few personal finance books to read. There are so many to choose from, some of which have become best sellers because of how many people they’ve helped.
Of course, no personal finance book can turn things around for you — you still have to do the work. But they can give you the steps (and the motivation) to help you turn your finances around yourself.
Read More: The 7 Best Personal Finance Books to Read This Year
4. INCREASE YOUR CREDIT SCORE
Your credit score is one of the most important numbers related to your personal finances. Think of your credit report as a report card and your credit score as a grade that shows lenders how responsibly you use debt.
So just why is your credit score so important?
Lenders use this number when deciding whether to lend you money, as well as the interest rate at which to lend it. The better your credit score, the more likely banks are to lend you money or give you a credit card. And since a good credit score can also land you a lower interest rate, increasing your credit score can help you save money.
The best way to boost your credit score is to pay your bills on time. A late or missed payment can have a major negative impact on your credit score.
There are plenty of other ways to increase your credit score, including reducing your debt, increasing your credit limits, diversifying your credit accounts, and increasing the age of your credit history.
Note: According to Bankrate, it can take anywhere from three months to six years to repair your credit, depending on what you’re bouncing back from.
5. MAKE SURE YOU’RE ON TRACK FOR RETIREMENT
If you’re in your twenties, thirties, or even your forties, retirement may seem too far off to be prioritizing right now. It makes sense that you’d rather focus on goals that are going to happen in the next few years.
But the truth is that retirement is a goal that you must start planning and saving for today to achieve decades in the future.
Most of us start saving for retirement in a workplace retirement plan like a 401(k), but you may also be saving in an individual retirement account (IRA).
Not sure how much you need to save? A tool like the Personal Capital Retirement Planner can help you figure out whether you’re on track for retirement and how much you should be saving and investing each month.
6. SET SOME SHORT-TERM SAVINGS GOALS
Long-term financial goals like retirement are important, but they don’t carry quite the same excitement as a goal you can achieve within the next few years.
While you’re saving for those big goals, consider a few short-term goals you’d like to save for as well. These could include buying a new car, going on a vacation, or even making the down payment on a house.
7. PICK UP A SIDE HUSTLE
It’s easy to look at all the financial tasks on your to-do list and wonder how you’ll ever afford them all. I get it! How are you supposed to have money going toward retirement, your other financial goals, paying off debt, and your regular expenses each month?
That’s where a side hustle comes in. A side hustle can provide a bit of extra income each month to help achieve your financial goals more quickly.
Not sure where to start? I’ve rounded up more than 35 legit ways you can start earning extra money today.
8. NEGOTIATE A PAY INCREASE
A side hustle isn’t the only way you can earn more money. You can also negotiate a pay increase at your current job as a way to boost your income.
Not only can negotiating a rase help you earn more money now, but you’ll change your income projection for your entire career. You’ll make more money over the long term and be able to set aside more for retirement.
When asking for a raise, make sure to research the average salary for your position, as well as put together a list of accomplishments and successes you’ve had in your job. Share thoes with your boss to show why you deserve a pay increase.
9. MAKE AN INVESTING PLAN
Investing is one of those financial tasks that sounds more complicated than it is. In reality, anyone can set up an investment strategy and start setting aside money, all in less than an afternoon.
If you’re wondering whether it’s really necessarily to be investing, the answer is a resounding yes. Investing is the single best way to build wealth.
Look at it this way: If you set aside $200 per month in your checking account for ten years, you would end up with $24,000. But if you invested that same amount, you’d end up with $10,000 more — just shy of $35,000. And the longer you leave your money invested, the more that discrepancy grows, thanks to compound interest.
Most people start by investing in a retirement plan, but you can also invest in a taxable brokerage account for your other shorter-term financial goals.
Read More: How to Start Investing as a Millennial
10. CHECK YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE
Insurance might be just about the least exciting financial topic out there, but it’s also one of the most important. No matter what type of insurance we’re talking about, it’s designed to protect you from financial loss.
The type of insurance coverages you’ll need — and how much coverage you need — depends on your lifestyle. The most common types that many people have are health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, home or renters insurance, disability insurance, and more.
11. GET YOUR ESTATE PLAN IN ORDER
No one likes to think about their death, and that’s understandable. And as much as you may not want to think about it, it’s important to plan for it. After all, you want to make sure that if something happens to you, your wishes are carried out.
Estate planning is especially important if you have loved ones you depend on you, children who will need to be cared for after you die, or significant assets that will need to be distributed.
The steps for setting up an estate plan are a bit too length for this article, but LegalZoom has an excellent estate planning guide on its website.
How to set financial goals
Setting financial goals is easier said than done. It’s one thing to say you want to retire early or take your dream vacation in two years, but it’s a totally different thing to make it happen.
Here’s a quick guide to setting financial goals:
- Envision your future. What do you want your life to look like five, ten, and twenty yeras from now? Figuring this out can help you decide which goals to set.
- Identify your current situation. What things in your life are exactly where you want them to be, and which could use a bit of work? Knowing where you’re starting is critical in helping you reach your end goal.
- Set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
- Break down your goals into small, actionable steps. You probably can’t save $20,000 for the down payment on a home in the next couple of months. But you can set small monthly savings goals to help you get there in the next couple of years.
- Make a plan to reach your goal. Achieving goals doesn’t happen accidentally or without effort. It’s important to make a plan and follow through with it.
- Create accountability. This step is key to achieving your goals, because it helps to ensure you’re on the right track. Some ideas for creating accountability include writing down your goal, sharing it with others, and tracking your progress along the way.
- Create helpful habits. Your habits are what drive your actions each and every day. Creating the right habits will be key in helping you achieve your desired outcome.
In this article, I’ve shared a handful of examples of goals to set to make the next year even better than the last.
But financial goals — and personal finances in general — aren’t one-size-fits-all. Instead, you’ve got to find the financial goals that will help you achieve what you envision for your life. For some it might be buying a home and setting down roots. For others, it’s traveling the world.
The beauty of personal finances is that everyone can take their own journey. So what will yours look like?