For me, setting a goal is the best way to keep myself on track about money. Any time I have had some Big Goal, I’ve been able to stick to my budget without exception. (And yes, I’m capitalizing that on purpose because something as magnificent as a Big Goal deserves uppercase letters.)
- Buying your dream home
- Paying off all your debts
- Going down to one income so a parent can stay home with the kids
- Putting your kids through college without student loans
- Helping an elderly family member
- Being able to retire early
- Moving to a new area
- Quitting your job to start your own business
Of course, those goals are just some examples – yours will probably be different. It doesn’t even have to be a huge goal – if you feel overwhelmed by that, start out smaller. Perhaps it would be paying off a specific credit card, buying an extra month’s worth of groceries, or saving up for next Christmas.
If your goal is a Big Goal, don’t be deterred by the fact that others may find it outrageous. People on small budgets achieve Big Goals all the time. I’ve put both kids through college debt-free and traveled extensively, all as a single mom who didn’t make a whole lot of money when I first set out on this path.
Put your goal front-and-center.
Whatever your specific goal is, focus on it with total dedication. Here are a few examples of how to keep your Big Goal visible and thus, at the forefront of your mind.
- Put photos that remind you of your goal on your fridge.
- Hang a picture beside your coffee maker.
- Wrap up your debit card with a piece of paper on which the goal is written.
- Make it your screensaver on your computers at both work and home.
- Make it the background on your phone.
Make sure your Big Goal is EVERYWHERE so that you are constantly reminded of it. It will give you pause before you spend money that is not conducive to your goal.
You can also make a vision board which will help you truly visualize your goal.
Once you know where you’re going, you need to make a map.
Think about a road trip. Let’s say you want to go from California to Virginia, like my daughter and I did a few years back. You could just drive east, but then you run the risk of ending up in Maryland or North Carolina, depending on where the roads take you. It makes more sense to navigate to your destination by using a map.
Real life can be very similar to traveling a great distance.
An entrepreneurial trick is to create a map to your Big Goal by working backward. Once you know your goal, it’s fairly easy to work your way from the goal to the point you are at right now.
It looks something like this:
- The Big Goal
- How much will it cost to reach the goal?
- When do you hope to reach the goal?
- How much do you need to put back per month to reach the goal in that time period?
- How much money do you have to put toward your goal each month? Is it enough for your monthly goal?
- If not, what can you cut to acquire that amount of money? How can you make the extra money?
Start at the end and work your way backward to figure out how to get there.
My Big Goal and how I made it happen
My Big Goal was to travel full time. It sounds pretty outrageous on a single-mom budget, but it was a long-term plan and I was able to make it happen.
Here’s a glimpse at what my map looked like. I started a few years ago when soon, my second daughter would be finished with vocational school. Once that was paid for, I could really slash the budget and make it happen. Meanwhile, I still put money toward this goal while I was paying for her education. Once tuition was taken care of, I could put all that money toward the goal as well. Within 2 years, I had the money to take off and gallivant. That put me on the path to my next goal, semi-retirement.
I put photos of exotic destinations all around my house. I searched on AirBnB for fun while watching Netflix with my kids. I researched a new location every weekend. I folded an old boarding pass around my debit card and kept it in my wallet that way so that every time I took it out of my purse, I was reminded of my goal and to ask myself if I really wanted to make the purchase I was about to make.
I focused on this goal every single day so that I remained determined to reach it.
And I did. More than a year ago, I sold 90% of my stuff and headed to Europe on a one-way ticket. Since that time, I have visited 10 countries and resided in 4 for more than two months each. (Here’s an article about how I was able to afford this lifestyle.) I’m currently waiting out pandemic restrictions by the beach in Mexico due to the extremely low prices for a 6-month rental.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it.
So, what’s your Big Goal? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
Create a map to get to it and give yourself some visual encouragement. This really works!