What's your financial goal for the new year? Is it something tangible, like getting out of debt, saving enough for that new car or changing the investments in your 40l(k) plan? Or is it just a big "number" -- making a million, getting a huge bonus or winning the lottery? Maybe your goal is to get a family member to do a better job managing money. Well, here's the first rule of goal-setting: Set no goal you can't control. There's a big distinction between goals and wishes. You can hope for those lottery winnings or for your spouse to change his or her money personality. But in my opinion, those are long-shot probabilities. Why not concentrate on the things you can control -- your own money decisions? What you can do is set up a plan, and the systems to back it up, so you're less at the mercy of fate or someone else's behavior. A goal without a plan is just a dream. It's fine to dream of success, of riches, of vacations or retirement. But you'll never get there without a plan of action. And the hardest step in making that plan is to define your goals.
As we move into the New Year, the first step is to write down your goals. Some may be for this year, and some may be for the long term.