How many times have you been reminded of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s quote “If your goals don’t scare you, they’re not big enough?”
I see this quote everywhere, and for a long time, it was the basis that I used to set my life goals, financial goals included. I’m guessing that many more people will use it as an inspiration to set audacious financial goals for 2022.
At the beginning of every year, for the past 5 years, I’d either sit and write these goals in my journal or just think about them, store them somewhere in my brain and promise myself that I’d remember and live up to them.
Every year I’d remind myself that I was going to be a multi-millionaire. I was meant to be a multi-millionaire. My mama told me that I was going to be great! and I wasn’t going to take anything less than that.
But for the 5 years, except 2020 and 2021, I never felt like I made any concrete progress towards achieving this audacious goal.
Do you have a similar experience? Where every new year you feel like you’re not getting there? That maybe you should give up on your audacious goals and write down smaller goals instead?
From conversations about money I’ve had with my friends and The Wealth Tribe community, a lot of people did the same. And a lot of us also knew that we’d be millionaires by age 30.
But then we became adults with jobs and multiple responsibilities and we soon realized that nope, we weren’t accumulating the millions as fast as we’d hoped.
Download the best financial goals worksheet to help you set achievable 2022 goals!
The cycle, especially when it comes to financial goals for me involved:
- Setting audacious goals at the beginning of the year.
- Showing up at work and working my ass off.
- Wondering why I wasn’t becoming rich as they promised us in school.
- A few months into the year, I’d realize that the goals I set are unachievable but also feel guilty because I’m supposed to be thinking big!
- Comparing myself with my peers who always seem to be doing better than I was.
- Giving up, and making sure never check that page of the journal and promise myself to do better next year.
Until I read Atomic Habits by James Clear. That book changed my approach to goal setting.
How to set and achieve financial goals
James Clear says that both winners and losers have the same goals. Everyone wants to be rich. Everyone wants to be a millionaire. What separates the winners from the losers is their habits.
This means that having an audacious goal is not enough. In fact, having a financial goal is not necessary for you to achieve financial freedom. What matters is your daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly financial habits.
I read the book in 2019 but I implemented most of my healthy financial habits in 2020 and 2021. I will teach you my system.
1. Forget your financial goals, focus on your habits
We’ve all heard of people who won the lottery and soon after became broke. Or people who worked extremely hard to lose weight for a marathon, but as soon as they won the marathon, they added the weight again. Why is this so?
They focused on the goals; to become rich, to win a marathon instead of focusing on long-term, sustainable, healthy habits (systems).
At the beginning of 2020 and 2021, instead of writing audacious financial goals, I came up with a list of healthy financial habits that I was going to stick with for a year. In both years, I’ve had multiple financial wins such as attaining debt freedom on Thursday, 8th April 2021 at 1505 hours!
When thinking about what you want to achieve financially in 2022, I will challenge you to forget your goals and focus on your financial habits instead. What will you do on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis to keep winning?
“Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment. That’s the counterintuitive thing about improvement. We think we need to change our results, but the results are not the problem. What we really need to change are the systems that cause those results. When you solve problems at the results level, you only solve them temporarily. In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.” – James Clear
2. Track your expenses, every day.
In 2022, you’re going to eliminate all guesswork in your finances. You won’t be part of the crew that wonders ‘where did my money go?’ at mid-month. We’re leaving this confusion in 2021.
For you to achieve this level of financial clarity, you will need to track your daily expenses, as soon as they occur or at the end of the day.
I record my expenses as soon as they occur or at the end of the day. I use my credit card to pay for all my purchases and bills except rent. I pay my credit card balance in full every month to avoid paying interest rates.
This system is easier for me because I receive a text message from my bank for every transaction.
I recommend using the Toshl Finance app to record your expenses which I reviewed in the article how to track personal expenses the easy way.
If you’re already thinking about how tiresome this activity must be, I have to remind you that all good things take time, it gets better with time, and…
“Choosing not to track your expenses is choosing to lose control over your money. It’s deciding that it’s okay to keep living in a financial fantasy while also deciding not to give each dollar that you earn a job.” – The Wealth Tribe
3. Check your bank balance often.
In the spirit of eliminating guesswork, you should always be in the know about what’s happening in your accounts.
I check my accounts every 2 days.
This habit is important because if anything such as fraud happened, you’d be in a position to report and get help fast. If you’re currently struggling with impulse buying, checking your bank balance will remind you that yes, you’re not rich enough to be swiping your card without a financial plan.
Your finances should always be at your fingertips. You should always know how much money is in your savings account and how much more you need to reach your savings goal. Always having this information in my mind helps me avoid overspending and keeps me focused on growing my net worth.
I’m always in the know of how much my credit card balance is and how much is due and on which date. Remember that missing a credit card payment is a terrible financial mistake.
4. Go through your bank statements every end month
I’ve seen some people post online that when they finally got into the habit of going through their bank statements every end of the month, they realized that their banks had been charging them crazy account maintenance fees.
Others realized that there were some purchases made that they weren’t responsible for, while others complained that the bank never credited their accounts for online purchases they cancelled.
My biggest realization was that banks charge conversion rates when you buy an item in a different currency, yet this costs the bank nothing! I learned this from the book Nudge by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein which is a highly recommended read.
As you work towards saving more money in 2022, one of the best ways is by going through your bank statements. Find out how you’ve been losing money and direct it towards your savings!
4. Automate your savings and investments
Apart from forgetting our goals, let’s also ditch the idea that we have strong enough will power to remember to save and invest. Depending on bursts of motivation to save for retirement doesn’t work.
Call your bank and your investment manager and set up automatic deductions from your current account towards your savings and investments accounts. Make sure these deductions are done before you have access to your money. Sign up for a standing order.
Saving and investing before spending gives you the freedom to confidently spend the rest of your money as you please (after paying all other basic bills) as opposed to feeling guilty about indulging in luxuries.
5. Review and audit your expenses every month
After recording all your expenses, you need an accountability session with yourself, your friend, partner or financial advisor at the end of every month where you review the expenses and set intentions or mini-goals for the next month.
Some of the questions I ask myself during this session include:
- Did I make impulsive purchases?
- How many of my purchases have long-term value?
- Which 3 things do I want to cut from my budget this month?
- Did I put money towards something I genuinely care about?
Find a guide on how to conduct this accountability session and all other questions here.
6. Talk about money
One of the reasons you still associate your past money mistakes with shame is because you don’t talk about money!
You’ve given this tool so much power.
You fear it so much that you keep carrying over your negative money emotions from one year to the next.
Challenge yourself to get over this fear in 2022.
Talk about what makes you anxious when you think about your finances. Talk to your partner about how you can grow your net worth. Talk to your friends about investments, what are they investing in? What can they teach you? How can you grow your income in the coming year?
Talking about money through this blog and to my friends is therapeutic. Every time I feel confused about something, I ask. When I’m unable to tell if an investment opportunity is lucrative or just another pyramid scheme, I ask.
I’ve completely gotten over the fear of sounding stupid, I’d rather sound stupid than lose my hard-earned money or miss out on an investment opportunity.
Apart from the 6 habits above, I’m also very deliberate about the following habits:
Increasing my ability to earn
How can you increase your income in 2022?
I wrote a list of 9 best personal finance books of all time that you should check out.
Do the following exercise
a. I, (insert your name) will do ______ every day to attain financial freedom.
b. I, (insert your name) will do ______ every week to attain financial freedom.
c. I, (insert your name) will do ______ every month to attain financial freedom.
d. I, (insert your name) will do ______ every six months to attain financial freedom.
e. I, (insert your name) will do ______ every end of the year to attain financial freedom.
If you want to make real, tangible progress, focus on getting 1% better with your money every day.
Setting financial goals in 2022
If you follow the above system, then it’s a sure bet that you will achieve your financial goals.
That being said, setting financial goals is not wrong or useless. As James Clear says “goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.” So if you still want to go ahead and write down your financial goals, it’s fine. But make sure to set up the systems that will ensure you achieve the goals.
What are your 2022 financial goals?
My 2022 financial goal is to attain financial freedom, specifically getting my monthly passive income to equal my monthly expenses. How will I do this? Sticking with my system I taught you above, investing and growing my side hustles.
Which brings to a mind-blowing lesson on setting financial goals that I learnt recently:
“A good financial plan is a roadmap that shows us exactly how the choices we make today will affect our future.” – Alexa Von Tabel
This means that after setting your goals, you should take it a step further and ask yourself ‘What will happen if I don’t achieve these goals?’
What is likely to go wrong if you don’t stick to your system? What are the opportunity costs?
Examples of short term financial goals (0 to 1 year)
To avoid getting tempted to spend this money, I advise that you keep this money in a Money Market Fund.
- Saving for a vacation.
- Saving for gifts such as Christmas, wedding, anniversaries, weddings, birthdays etc
- Wedding planning
- Home Improvement/Renovation
- Building an emergency fund
- Paying off a specific debt
- Buying a big house appliance eg fridge, cooker, washing machine.
Examples of mid-term financial goals (2-5 years)
A Money Market Fund would also work for mid-term financial goals
- Saving for a home down payment
- Taking yourself of your family for a dream vacation
- Buying a car in cash
Examples of long-term financial goals (5+ years)
- Saving for college education
- Investing for retirement
- Paying off a mortgage
- Attaining 100% financial freedom
“If you can get 1% better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1% worse each day for one year, you’ll decline down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.” – James Clear
Other types of good financial goals include:
1. Growing your credit score
If you plan on getting a mortgage, starting a business, applying for a new credit card or doing anything that will involve getting a loan from any financial institution, then improving your credit score should be in your list of financial goals.
Financial institutions use your credit score (a number that shows how credit-worthy you are) to decide if they will give you a loan or not. It also determines how much they can offer. Having a good credit score also puts you in a good position to negotiate interest rates for these loans.
This article will teach you all about credit scores; why your credit score matters, factors that determine your credit-worthiness, and also has tips to improve your credit score.
2. Get over your negative money emotions
If you often think;
- I don’t deserve to be paid so much money.
- Women are terrible with money.
- Money is bad/evil.
- My riches are in heaven.
- As long as the money is in my account, I need to spend it.
- I don’t believe in saving. As long as I’m a good person, the universe will take care of me.
- It’s not good to talk about money.
then getting over those negative money scripts should be your goal in 2022. I will teach you how in this article.
3. Create a budget and stick to it
Wondering how to create a budget that works? One that you will finally stick to this year? I got you! Click here for the perfect guide.
4. Build a sufficient emergency fund
If 2020 and 2021 taught you any meaningful financial lesson, it’s that you can’t live without an emergency fund.
Here is a step by step guide to help you build one. Gift yourself a serene 2022!
4. Invest and start saving for retirement
The article covers how to invest, where to invest and the best investing book recommendations.
5. Pay off debt
One of my 2021 goals is to finish paying my student loan. I’ve been very consistent in 2020 and plan to keep doing the same in 2021. I can’t wait for that day when I’ll finally declare that I’m debt-free!
Update: I smashed that goal! I finished paying my student loan!
Apart from student loans, you might have gotten into debt in 2021 to stay afloat but debts have to be paid. Include it in your budget so that you’re consistent. Consistency will give you results.
6. Buy Atomic Habits by James Clear
I’ve written so much about this game-changer. If you’re struggling with forming healthy habits, in any area of your life, then start your year right by getting yourself this practical habit-formation book.
Sustaining healthy financial habits also requires you to have healthy exercise habits, healthy eating habits, proper mental health habits, healthy work habits etc. This article will make more sense when you incorporate the above habits plus also read Atomic Habits by James Clear.
“You don’t need mentors, you need action.” – Naval
Setting Financial Goals Worksheet
Ready to build new financial habits?
Click here to download a worksheet that will enable you to:
- Review your 2021 financial year.
- Set 2022 Financial Goals & habits using the above system.
The beautiful thing about using a financial system as opposed to just setting audacious goals is that you constantly enjoy the fruits of your baby steps and you’re able to adjust your goals depending on the current situation in your life.
Reviewing your goals on a monthly basis allows you to monitor your progress which keeps the motivation on as opposed to giving in to procrastination.
For 2022, I challenge you to be deliberate, to experience the magic that is brought about by having healthy financial habits, to make your financial dreams and wishes real, to give yourself a chance to thrive.
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