How to Set Goals and Track Your Financial Progress
By: Lizzie Letsou
Summer’s not over yet! And there’s still plenty of time to set, achieve, and make progress towards new goals this summer. Wondering how you can do just that? Keep reading to find out how Nav.it can help you stay on track.
What is goal tracking?
Goal tracking is a tool you can use to monitor your progress over time. Tracking your goals can help ensure that you’re focusing your efforts in the right direction. It may also help improve your chances of actually achieving your goals.
Measuring and tracking your progress can help you accomplish your personal and financial goals.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Being organized is key to being successful in any and all endeavors. And when it comes to achieving your goals, keeping track of your progress over time is essential.
What kind of goals should I track?
So, here’s the thing: goal-tracking is an excellent tool to help you stay on top of your game. But…it doesn’t necessarily work for all goals.
What kind of goals should you track then? I’m glad you asked!
There’s actually something called a “SMART” goal, which basically describes the types of goals you should be setting for yourself (and tracking).
Well, what does “SMART” stand for?
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant
T = Time-bound
Okay, I’m going to break this down for you.
Make your goals specific
You want your goals to be Specific because if they aren’t, it’s going to be much harder to actually accomplish them. Ask yourself about the five W’s associated with your goal: the who, what, why, when, and where?
Answer those questions first and really narrow down what it is that you want to achieve. Do you want to exercise for 30 minutes each day? That’s great! But be even more specific.
What gym are you going to? Where is the gym located? How far is it from your house? Are you going with a workout buddy? A personal trainer? When are you going to go? Morning? Afternoon? Evening? Why do you want to start a new workout routine anyways?
This is just one simple example of how you can create more specific and, in turn, more realistic goals.
That leads me to my next point!
Your goals should be measurable.
Now what do I mean by that?
Here’s the thing: your goals need to be quantifiable. I know, I know, everyone hates doing unnecessary math! But hear me out…being able to measure your goals will allow you to know how much progress you’ve made.
Let’s say you go ahead with that new workout regimen and plan to exercise for 30 minutes everyday. Try keeping a journal (or Google Doc, or whatever works for you!) and write down a tally of each workout. That way you’ll be able to see how many minutes (or hours) in total you’ve exercised this week, month, and even year!
Your goals should be attainable.
Alright let’s take a step back now. Notice how I set the hypothetical workout goal to only 30 minutes of exercise per day? That’s because it’s important for your goals to be Attainable. Don’t expect yourself to turn into a marathon runner in a month if you started out not being able to run a mile.
It’s also essential that you identify what specific challenges you might encounter on your way to achieving your goals. For example, do you have a hard time finding motivation to work out? Are certain exercises (like running, weightlifting, etc) easier or more challenging than others? Determine potential roadblocks so that you can squash them effectively whenever they come your way.
Let’s say you want to get more into fitness eventually. But maybe now’s just not the right time. Maybe you’re too busy with school or work to really establish a proper workout routine. That’s okay! It might be more appropriate to simply focus on your diet or incorporating things like walking, yoga, or stretching into your daily routine.
Your goals should be relevant.
If your goal is to improve your overall physical fitness, setting goals like drinking 8 glasses of water or sleeping 8 hours a night fits right in.
But not every goal may fit in your overall and big picture plan. That’s where relevance comes into play.
To be honest, everything I’ve just said means nothing if your goals are not Relevant. The concept of a “goal” is not one size fits all. Every person is unique in their own way–so it’s up to each individual to figure out what goals they want to set for themselves.
Your goals should be time-bound.
At last we’ve arrived at the last step to setting a SMART goal! Your goals need to be Time-bound. This just means that you need to set deadlines for yourself.
Think about it this way: let’s say you’re enrolled in an English course. The professor assigns you an essay but never mentions when the due date will be. How motivated are you to complete it on the first day?
In order to accomplish any goal, you have to know when you want to accomplish it.
From finances to fitness – having a deadline can keep you motivated.
So, let’s say you craft a 3-month workout plan. That is, by the end of those three months you’ll have completed 30 minutes of exercise each day and you hope to improve your endurance and strength. Or maybe you set a goal to only eat vegan for a month.
Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s tied to a specific timeline.
How can Nav.it help me track (and accomplish!) my goals?
So…you want to track your goals but maybe you’re not sure how to get started. Lucky for you, Nav.it is big on goal tracking!
Now, since Nav.it is a financial app you might assume that we’re only interested in tracking your spending habits. While that is true, Nav.it is also interested in tracking your money mindset, meaning we want to ensure that you’re financially and emotionally/mentally/psychologically well.
In fact, the Insights tab will allow you to not only track your transactions, but also your mindset. That way, you can look back and reflect on how you felt about your spending habits each week/month/day.
Of course, this gives you the “big picture” view of how you’re doing financially. But if you want to examine your financial habits from a more granular point of view, you can click on the “Overview” feature under the Insights tab to see a more in-depth breakdown of your recent transactions.