How to Get Started on a Finance Goal

How to Get Started on a Finance Goal

Welcome back to our mini "get started" series to kick off the year here on the Cultivate blog! Your PowerSheets® and Team Cultivate will be with each step of the way as you move forward on the things that matter to you (little by little!), and this month, that means bringing you the tips and motivation you need to get off to a great start with your goals.

Often, the hardest part of getting started is getting started, amiright? Especially when you're trying something totally new. You're fired up and motivated to make progress, but you don't know where to direct all that energy! 

This month, in a special blog series, we'll be laying out potential starting steps for the most common goals we hear in the Cultivate community. Each week, along with some of your most trusted experts, we'll bring you starting steps for health and wellness goals, finance goals (today!), parenting and family relationship goals, spiritual and personal growth goals, and finally, business and work goals. 

Finances can feel big and scary  and yet they are the underpinning for every other goal, in many ways!   so encouragement at the start is extra-important. As big and scary as finances may seem, here's the good news: there is no one perfect way to make progress. So, read through the advice below, consider your own goals, choose a path, and dive in TODAY! 

Take the first step towards financial wellness by writing out on one sheet of paper what or who your priorities are in life. Money is a resource that allows you freedom: freedom to explore life, freedom to take a break when you need to, or freedom to leave situations that no longer serve you. Always remember that financial wellness is a form of self-care.  — Marsha Barnes, founder of The Finance Bar

My finances and spending habits are directly related to what I put in front of my eyes and ears. If I am following fashion bloggers and perusing Target on the reg, I decide in my mind and my heart there is so much that I don’t have that I need. But if I am staying focused on flourishing at home and am listening to worship music or Dave Ramsey's podcast, I decide that I really don’t need anything and I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

If you’re serious about getting serious with your finances, my biggest piece of advice is to guard your eyes and ears, and be sure you are filling them with positive messages about stuff and money! When my husband and I were serious about getting out of debt and paying off our house, we listened to Dave Ramsey nonstop. It was motivational and kept us on track with our goals! I also unfollowed people that made me want to spend money, and practiced cleaning out my house and really taking inventory of the things I already own.  Nancy Ray, author of The Contentment Challenge

Use some sort of budgeting app or software that will track and categorize your transactions and spending (Mint or Personal Capital are both good). If you don't know where your money is going, it's impossible to know where you can improve, or see your progress over time. By tracking everything you spend you can easily run monthly reports to see how much money you're spending in different categories, so you can instantly know where you can "trim the fat." — Beth Moncel, money saving and meal planning expert at Budget Bytes

Invest in eliminating your consumer debt (credit card debt). Many people want to start investing when they still have a lot of debt, and that's just not a very good strategy. Interest on credit card compounds daily and is typically in the double digits. Even if someone did well in the stock market in the short term, it would be very difficult to outpace the interest on credit cards. Get motivated to get rid of that first! Become laser-focused on eliminating that so that you can upgrade into investing. — Mabel Nunez, founder and CEO of Girls on the Money

Focus on building a cash emergency fund. Everyone experiences unexpected expenses like car repairs and medical bills, and if you can build up a cash emergency fund, you can cover those expenses without having to take on debt. Start small and build up three months of your living expenses in your savings account. After you’ve reached that milestone, I recommend stretching that goal to six months of living expenses.  — Michelle Disney, Certified Financial Planner at Adams Chetwood

Open up a “dream account.” This is a free/no fee savings account (like a Capitol One 360 account) that you will use to save up little by little toward a dream of yours, like a family vacation you’ve always wanted to take or a small house renovation you’ve been dreaming of. Calculate the total cost of the dream and (using the spending data you've accumulated), figure out how much you can afford to cut back on spending on things you don't really care about to divert those funds into this dream account, and then automate that savings transfer monthly!  Shay Cochrane, personal finance enthusiast

Make it a new discipline, when you're considering a purchase, to stop and think whether you actually need whatever it is. Taking the extra few seconds to stop and ask yourself, "was I surviving without this item?" before making a purchase really helps put things in perspective. If the answer is yes, you likely don't need the item, you just want it. So basically, commit to being mindful about spending rather than impulsive.  — Beth Moncel

Start saving to invest. Open an online savings account specifically to save money for investing purposes. (Online accounts generally give you a higher interest rate as you wait!) This will allow you to have "fresh cash" on the side as you research the companies and funds you'd like to invest in. Once you're ready, you'll have the money to do so! Start by allocating $50-$100 to that account every two weeks, or whatever you can afford — the number is arbitrary, just get started! Once you have about $1,000 in that savings account, transfer the funds over to an investment account. In this day and age, most investment accounts require $0 account minimums and charge $0 in investing fees. The most important thing is that you do your research before investing in anything, so that you can make EDUCATED decisions that can actually make you money. Not all investments are created equal. — Mabel Nunez

Finances are 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge. (I stole that line from Dave Ramsey, but it is SO true.)  It’s way more about how you approach life, your discipline, your habits, and your beliefs than it is about how much money you make. I think understanding that is the best starting point when it comes to taking hold of your finances! YOU are in control of your financial destiny —no one else. So my advice to you is to dig deep and ask yourself this question: what do you really believe about money? And do you believe you have the power to change your financial future? (I’ll go ahead and tell you the answer: you do!)  Nancy Ray

Friends, I hope these ladies gave you a few things to think about as you set out on your finance goals this year! Below, I've rounded up some of our best resources for your use along the way. We're cheering you on!

Check back on Friday for a post from yours truly! :) I'll be breaking down one of the most important financial goals you can tackle: building an emergency fund. Can't wait to share!

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Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is Cultivate What Matters' Content Strategist and Writer. With over a decade at Cultivate, Emily loves helping women uncover what matters, set good goals, and live them out with joy. Her free time is spent with her high-school-sweetheart husband and three young kiddos.

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