Make Your Money Goals Happen by the End of 2015

With summer almost over and a new fall season about to begin, we’ve got fresh starts on our minds.

It’s the time of year we tend to refocus after a season of vacations and swimming pools. And it’s the perfect time to get re-energized about those goals you set back when it was snowing outside.  

Don’t wait until next January to turn your money goals into reality. Do it now. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be celebrating!

1. Write Your Dreams

What was your top money goal for 2015? Are you getting close? If yes, keep up the good work. If not, sit down with your spouse and create a new, specific goal to reach by the end of the year, like contributing an extra $2,000 to your 401(k).

If you aren’t married, grab a quiet table at your favorite coffee shop and ask yourself the same question—in your head, of course.

While you’re dreaming, write down some long-term money goals as well. What does life look like for you in five, 10, and 20 years? Will you be vacationing in South America? Remodeling your ’80s kitchen? Giving outrageously to the charity of your choice?

Dreams aren’t always easy to nail down. That’s why it’s so important to write them out and revisit them often.

2. Follow the Plan

How many times have you started saving for one of your dreams—a big vacation or a down payment—only to be derailed by an unexpected surgery or car repair? It happens. That’s why the Baby Steps are a crucial part of goal setting.

The Baby Steps act as a roadmap for your money. By following these in order, you’ll be able to achieve your big money goals while successfully managing your day-to-day budget. Consider it your step-by-step guide to financial success. By following the plan, you’ll create goals that will help determine priority in your budget each month. Here’s how:

  • Baby Step 1: $1,000 starter emergency fund in the bank
  • Baby Step 2: Pay off debts smallest to largest with the debt snowball
  • Baby Step 3: Fully funded emergency fund of three to six months of expenses
  • Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of pretax income into retirement
  • Baby Step 5: Invest for kids' college savings
  • Baby Step 6: Pay off the house
  • Baby Step 7: Build wealth and give a bunch away

Focus on the Baby Step you’re on right now—don’t skip one or try to do them all at once. Each one is an important mile marker on the way to meeting your goals.

Related: How to Win With Money in 7 Easy Baby Steps

3. Re-evaluate Your Goals

After you’ve determined your dreams, line them up with your current Baby Step. For example, if you’re currently on Baby Step 2 (paying off debt) and your year-end goal is to save more for retirement, take a few steps back.

A more realistic short-term goal would be to pay off the remainder of your student loan. That’s something you can achieve by the end of 2015 and see serious results. Small wins along the way will motivate you to accomplish your longer-term goals.

4. Budget Your Money to Achieve Your Goals

Up to this point, you’ve been laying the groundwork for success. Now comes the fun part: budgeting.

A budget is just telling your money where to go each month. It’s not complicated or scary. It exists to make your life—and your goals—even clearer.  

Want your money to go toward paying off that student loan? Great. Simply budget more money for it. Want to finally take that European vacation? Awesome. Challenge yourself to put away an amount each month for a starter savings fund.

Do that every month, and you’ll be celebrating by year’s end. Don’t put your dreams on hold any longer. Start your personal countdown today!