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2022 will soon be here, so it’s is a great time for financial introspection so you can set your 2022 financial goals. Whether you are a fan of New Year’s resolutions or not, January just seems synonymous with the idea of fresh starts and new habits. And especially since January comes right after December, with the holiday season and all of the consumerism it often entails, it’s also natural to feel that we need a bit of a financial reset right after.
In this post, I’ll share five types of financial goals that you might consider for your 2022 financial goals. Of course, everyone’s personal finance journey is personal, and your goals should be personal too. And there’s no law either that says you need to start these goals in January or that they need to span the entire year.
As you look through the list, consider which goals are most appropriate for your financial situation and which goals are inspiring to you. Journal about it. Talk with your spouse or partner if you have one, and when you are ready, settle in on just one or two major goals. The more intentional we are about our goals, the more likely we are to stick with them and make real progress.
Build your emergency fund
When the unexpected occurs, it can be so helpful to have an emergency fund to fall back on. An emergency fund can help break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and can provide a much-needed buffer that serves as a protection against further debt.
The size of your emergency fund will vary depending on your own risk tolerance and your situation. If you are young, don’t have children, and have significant job security, you can probably get by with a smaller emergency fund (3-6 months of living expenses). But if you are self-employed, have an irregular income, or have other factors that may unexpectedly affect either your income or your expenses, a higher emergency fund (6-12 months of living expenses) may be better.
If your emergency fund is not yet where you’d like it to be, consider making regular contributions to it in 2022 to build it up. Don’t be daunted by the size of this goal if you are just getting started. Small but regular contributions can make a big difference.
Increase your retirement savings
If you are currently saving for retirement, consider whether you’d like to increase the amount you dedicate to this goal every month.
Or if you haven’t yet started, there’s no better time to start. In fact, the earlier you start saving for retirement, the more time your money has to grow through the power of compounded interest.
Pay off debt
Particularly if you have high-interest debt, setting a goal to pay off as much of that debt as possible can be a great boost toward your overall financial wellness.
If you have multiple debts, such as credit cards, student loans, personal loans, and car loans, your 2022 financial goal should include details about which loan(s) you are planning to tackle first, and which ones are lower on the priority list.
For some people, the mathematical efficiency of paying off loans in the order of highest interest rate to lowest makes the most sense. For others, paying off the smallest loans first provides a much-needed psychological boost and the motivation to keep going. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Do what works for you.
Save toward a major goal
In your 2022 financial goals, consider setting a savings target toward a long-term goal. Your goal may be a purchase requiring significant capital, like buying a home or a car. Or it may be an experience, like a big vacation.
If you have a target amount you’d like to save and a time by which you need the money, work backward to figure out how much to save each month. This is great if you want to, say, buy a new laptop or redecorate a room in your home.
But these kinds of goals can also be a lot more nebulous too. For example, you may know you want to buy a house, but you don’t know when or how much it will cost. In this case, set a rough estimate and just get started. Even if you find out later that you underestimated how much you’ll need, you’ll still appreciate that you got started saving when you did.
Use a budget
If you don’t yet use a budget to plan out your expenses each month, I highly recommend setting this as a goal. Without a budget, we’re flying blind and just hoping that our spending will be in line with our goals. And honestly, that’s rarely going to be the case.
And I get it. Setting a budget sounds like such a tedious, mind-numbing task. Or it sounds just so restrictive.
But the secret to making a budget that actually works is to get clear beforehand about your goals and intentions. When you write your budget to be in line with these goals, it’s so much easier to stick to it.
So go ahead and include a line item for coffee in your budget, if that’s important to you. Or give yourself license to spend what you need on the things that bring you joy. Set more restrictive, but still realistic, numbers for the things that don’t matter as much to you.
But also make sure to include your major long-term goals in your budget. Set aside money for them in each paycheck, if possible.
Goal setting can be tricky. It’s so easy to set too many goals or to set unattainable goals. And then when we inevitably have trouble accomplishing those goals, we are often tempted to give up.
In personal finance, though, any progress that we make toward a goal counts as progress. Even if we meant to save $10,000 but only succeeded in saving $2,000, that’s still $2,000 more than we otherwise would have had.
So set 2022 financial goals that inspire you. Focus on the area of your personal finance that will have the biggest impact for you in the coming year, and set goals that are both challenging but doable. And then check in on your progress regularly throughout the year.