New Year, New Freedom, New Money Goals!

By Ray’Chel Wilson

What are you hopeful for in the new year? This upcoming 2023 is a time to step into your freedom with your mindset and your money. Let’s get into some quick ways to set money goals based on your current stage.

Setting Money Goals for the New Year

A common acronym used to define how to set goals is S.M.A.R.T., suggesting we make goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Here is a more simple way to set your goals and set yourself up for success in the new year:

Identify your:

  • What → Specific sum of money needed to achieve the goal (Ex. Save $2,000 for a home down payment)
  • When → Specific time-bound deadline to achieve the goal (Ex. By December 2023)
  • How → Specific amount of money saved per time frame (Ex. Save $77 every bi-weekly paycheck in 2023 to reach $2,000 saved)
    • P.S. – This can also be further broken down into how you plan to obtain the money (e.g. start a profitable side hustle, pull from eating out budget, lower or take away money-draining bad habits, etc.)
  • Why → What does this goal mean to you personally? What personal values does it honor (Ex. Freedom to travel, feelings of security, etc.)? For more on identifying personal values, view the Holistic Money Mindset: Mental Preparation for Abundance workbook.

Starting from Where you Are

Achieving your goals can bring freedom in many areas. Let’s go through some examples of money goals based on various stages of your wealth journey:

Are you struggling to make ends meet?

  • Create goals geared towards creating financial stability.
    • Organize: Make a list of all of your expenses (money out) and income (money in). Add due dates, and put these in your calendar, to avoid late fees. Don’t forget the minimum payments on any debt!
    • Up-skilling: Take a free class locally or online to increase your skills and get a higher-paying job
    • Emergency Fund: Once you’re feeling more stable, begin to save money on a consistent basis in a high-yield savings account. This way, you can have money for a rainy day, and grow your money sitting in the bank account (rather than the money sitting under your mattress, and having no growth). Begin with a smaller goal, like saving a month’s living expenses. As you move into the next stage, 6-8 months of your basic living expenses are recommended for your emergency fund.

Are you just above living paycheck to paycheck?

  • Create goals geared towards a strategy to keep yourself from falling back in the last stage. 
    • Debt Paydown: Interest rates cause our debts to continue to rise! Aim to pay down debts with the highest interest rate first. If you do not know where to find this, it is located on your credit statement, or you can contact your lender via phone or email to request a copy of your signed agreement. 
    • Automation: Once your income is more than your expenses, it’s time to automate your payments. Turn on auto-pay, auto-draft, or any way to automate your bill pay to avoid unnecessary late fees. You can also automate your saving through apps like Qapital. You can even get $5 towards saving with the affiliate code “h322p9st.”

Are you finding extra money in your budget?

  • Create goals geared towards security to maintain your newly formed good money habits and begin to secure a wealthy future.  
    • Invest: Investing allows you to grow your money & create more time freedom (AKA time to do what you desire)! One of the safest ways to invest is through index funds & ETFs, also known as a group of stocks, on a consistent basis (once per pay period, once per month, once per quarter, etc.), known as Dollar Cost Averaging. You can also automate your investing through tools like Stash.
    • Give: It’s better to give than to receive! If giving isn’t already included in your budget, the security stage is a great time to do so. Pick your favorite local or national nonprofit, like the Phe’Be Foundation, so that you can pay it forward.

Once you’ve reached all three of these levels, and your investment income covers your living expenses, you can be considered financially free! Always remember, you are meant for abundance, but only if you choose to walk in it.

Stay tuned for the next article to always better your money moves.

Affirm: I can reach new levels in my wealth journey. I am financially free!

Ray’Chel Wilson, CFEI®, a Toledo native, is the author of the Black Wealth Freedom series and CEO of Raise the Bar Investments, all things minority-friendly personal finance, #ForOurLastNames. Ray’Chel is an advisory board member of the Phe’Be Foundation, a Cleveland-based nonprofit fighting financial illiteracy across age ranges.