How to Set Realistic Financial Goals for 2017

The most effective way to achieve your goals is to set 90-day objectives instead of looking at a looming annual goal or even a 5-year plan. You need to take small action steps so you don’t get overwhelmed and lose your motivation. This applies to anything from losing weight to planting a garden to renovating your bathroom to planning your finances.

I’m a huge proponent of Dave Ramsey’s baby steps program, which includes saving for emergencies (steps 1 and 3), paying off your debt (step 2), investing for retirement (step 4) and kids’ college funds (step 5), and paying off your home early (step 6). The reason this program works is that it breaks things down into small steps. You need to focus your energy – and money – on one goal at a time. People have their consumer debt paid off in an average of two years using the snowball method, which frees up their income to save and invest more freely rather than trying to win by nickel and diming every aspect of their financials.

I’ve been working on my first quarter goals for 2017 and even though it’s already March, I want to reach out and share some financial goal-setting advice you can use as you plan your 2017 financials.

It’s important to understand your finances no matter what you’re doing. There are the basic things you should know: how much money you make, how much you have in savings and checking, your monthly budget, etc. Then there are bigger-picture items like investments and debt payoff goals. As you’re evaluating your financial goals, this Money Saving Challenge infographic from Earnest can help you make a useful goal for each month of the year. Earnest is a company that offers refinancing of student loans, which can be useful if their rates will save you money over the remaining life of your loan (assuming you pay it off early using the baby steps). Every penny counts!

I added a minimalist twist on a few of the included months. In March, you’ll see a recommendation to declutter your home and host a yard sale, which helps you minimize the amount of “stuff” in your house and can also help you make a few bucks. In June, I recommend evaluating your subscriptions and services to once again reduce your commitments and add money back to your bottom line.

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Which of these financial tips are you already working toward, and what new ideas can you add to your goals for the next 90 days?

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9 thoughts on “How to Set Realistic Financial Goals for 2017

  1. bagheeracr says:

    We’ve done step one and are working on step two of Ramsey- we should be done with our April payment.
    I like your info graphic and will look at it in greater detail later today.
    I’ve also recently picked up for the tenth or so time, your money or your life- complex but good in tandem with Ramsey.
    I’ve also been looking at Simple Money, he has a few easy equations to help you qualify “enough”.

  2. zseckley says:

    Great post with timely advice!
    We’re looking at downsizing from a 1 bedroom to a studio apartment, and that’s going to involve getting rid of some large pieces of furniture. As much as I like the idea of putting a few bucks in our pockets, I’m actually considering straight up donating these items. I figure it’s less like losing money and more like passing on good fortune. They’re quality pieces, so someone’s going to get a great bargain at the thrift store – maybe someone who needs to save some money more than I need to make some money.

  3. collidehealth says:

    I love the idea of de-cluttering and selling things online! It’s a lot easier then most people think. I’ve been on Ramsey’s step 2 for a while and will continue until I’m pay off my student loan. These are good ideas to cut out some spending (such as my favorite coffee shop). Great topic!

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