Step 1: How to Set Financial Goals You Can Achieve

It’s that time again!

We’re nearing that brief stretch of the year where resolutions become the topic of discussion around our workplace water coolers. At a time when many of us have been so disappointed by having the economy involuntarily defer our dreams, what better time than a brand new year to rejuvenate our greatest hopes and desires?

So, what goals are you aiming for in 2013? If you ask most people, you’ll probably here a slew of answers that many of us can surely identify with: improving FICO scores, putting more into savings and paying off debt.

Those dry, bland and grossly vague answers might work at the water cooler, but they shouldn’t work for you! Pretending that those types of generic goals actually effect change in anyone’s life is a complete waste of time. The question you must ask yourself is, “Do I want to rattle off random and generic goals just to make small talk?” or “Do I want to set goals I can actually achieve and use to change my life in 2013?” If you chose the latter, then keep reading!

Be specific. So you want to improve your credit, save money and pay off bills? Great! Join the club. What do you really want to achieve though? Undefined goals are nothing more than dream killers. In order to achieve financial goals you must be deliberate about your intentions by using concrete numbers to gauge your success. Write down the goal and be clear about dollar amounts, percentages, dates for accomplishment, etc.

Goal #1: I will improve my credit score by 40 points with all 3 credit bureaus.

Goal #2: I will save $1200 in my Roth IRA account by December 31, 2013.

Goal #3: I will pay off $2120 of debt and eliminate 1 credit card and 3 medical bills.

On Monday, Oct. 29, we’ll cover two more steps to help you achieve your goals!

Patrice C. Washington is the Wisdom & Wealth Money Maven at and author of the series, Real Money Answers. Follow her on Twitter at @SeekWisdomPCW for practical tips on wisdom, wealth & business.