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7 Surprising Examples Of Financial Goals To Set During New Years

Chris Gottschalk

Chris Gottschalk About The Author

Dec 28, 2023 4:45:00 AM

If your New Year's resolutions involve money, you're not alone. According to one report, nearly half of Americans are making finance-related resolutions, and a lot of them are ones you've heard before. They want to save more, spend less, make a budget or finally get out of credit card debt and improve their credit score.

While there's nothing wrong with these financial goals, they're not the only goals out there. Here are some financial goals you might not have considered, and they range from small self-improvement steps to huge lifetime ambitions.

What are some surprising examples of financial goals?

Surprising Financial Goals

Understanding Financial Goals

Before we get into these financial goals, though, let's take a moment to understand just what financial goals are.

What is a financial goal?

A financial goal is like any other goal. The only difference is that it often requires money to achieve. These goals can include:

  • paying off debt
  • building an emergency fund
  • saving for a major purchase
  • planning for retirement
  • paying off student loans
  • Buying real estate

Importance of having financial goals

When you set financial goals, you're not just saving up for something cool or getting out from debt. You're also setting yourself up for success in almost every aspect of your life.

Setting financial goals gives you a sense of direction. You're giving yourself and your money a purpose. As a result, you won't just start prioritizing your expenses and set good financial habits--you'll also start thinking about what you ultimately want out of life and prevent yourself from drifting aimlessly (unless that's your goal in the first place).

Financial goals also help you stay focused. When you set a goal, you're less likely to be distracted by impulse buys and other things that seem nice at the time, but ultimately don't help you achieve your goals.

A financial goal also helps you feel motivated. When you have a clear plan in place, you know what you're working for, and you're less likely to get distracted. If you've built benchmarks into your financial goal, you're even more likely to stay motivated over the course of reaching your goal.

Unconventional Examples of Financial Goals you can set for the New Year

If you've got most of the typical financial goals taken care of, like creating a budget, building an emergency fund and saving for retirement, you might want take a look at the following goals. They might be a bit different than you were expecting, but they can have a significant impact on your financial future.

Read a personal finance book

Increasing your financial knowledge is never a bad thing, and when you read a book about finances, you have the opportunity to take a deep dive into any aspect of finances you might like, such as:

  • Saving more money
  • Building a better budget
  • Teaching money to children
  • Learning how to invest in the stock market
  • Starting your own business

If you're worried that you might not have enough money to go out and buy a book, don't worry. Your local public library has books on almost every subject, including finances.

Fund next winter's holidays

The last thing you probably want to think about in January is next December, but the earlier you start saving for the next winter holiday season, the less stress you have when it arrives. You might even enjoy the holidays more, since you won't be worrying about how you'll get out of debt once all the celebration has ended.

You can start saving for the now-upcoming holidays by creating a budget category for the goal and saving regularly, the same as you would most other financial goals. It's worth pointing out that if you create a holiday budget, or put together a holiday budget for the previous year, you'll have a good idea of how much you need to save for future expenses and how much you should put aside each month to fund the next winter holiday season.

Pay yourself first

The goal of "paying yourself first" may sound counterintuitive, but it's a financial goal that can have a significant impact on your financial future. Prioritizing savings before expenses means setting aside a specific percentage of your income, whether it's 10% or 20%, for personal savings before paying bills or expenses. By making savings a priority, you can build a substantial savings account, emergency fund, or retirement savings, setting the stage for financial security and freedom.

Unless you're extremely lucky, part of your paycheck goes toward paying bills each month. When you pay yourself first, though, you set aside part of your income for yourself before you start paying off your bills. When you pay yourself first, though, you can start creating a nest egg that will give you some financial security.

How can you use the money you put in your savings account? Here are some ideas:

  • Start an emergency fund, or build your existing emergency fund up faster
  • Put it in a Roth IRA
  • Save for an important goal, like home repairs or a new car
  • Open a certificate of deposit to take advantage of higher interest


Got questions about how to start saving? Ask us!

Get Started

Get a new credit card

While taking on more credit card debt is rarely a good thing, getting a new credit card itself can actually give your finances a boost. You'll first want to look at your current credit cards and make a note of their interest rates and annual fees, as well as any other fees that you might be paying. You should also list what rewards the credit card offers.

From there, start searching for credit cards that offer better terms. The interest rate should be the first thing you look at, as well as whether they offer an annual fee or not. However, you should also see what types of rewards the credit card offers and determine whether you'll be able to accumulate enough points to make those rewards worthwhile. If you do select another credit card, see if they offer a promotion that gives you zero interest on whatever balance you transfer you put on the card.

Start your own business

If you've ever considered starting your own business, make it a goal for this year. Being your own boss isn't always the easiest prospect, but owning your own business can give you financial independence, personal fulfillment and the opportunity to pursue your passions.

If you do decide to start your own business, make sure to prepare thoroughly. Write up a business plan, figure out how much money you'll need to start and even talk with a business lending advisor about opening up a business account.

Become financially independent

Most people working a job would love to become financially independent. The problem is that achieving financial independence can seem like an impossible dream, and the closest most of us get to achieving it is buying a lottery ticket here and there. Here's the thing, though--even if you don't ultimately manage to get financially independent, you'll probably have an impressive amount of money saved up.

Keep in mind that financial freedom is a long-term financial goal that will take years to achieve, so don't be frustrated if you don't have the amount of money you need by next January. You'll want to consider how much you'll need to become financially independent first, and after that you'll have to figure out where you'll get the money to save until you reach your goal. Additionally, you'll have to consider where you'll be storing the money you save so that it can generate interest and earn even more money.

Plan for fun

There's no denying that goals like making a budget, saving and planning for retirement are important. However, they're also not what most people consider fun. Do yourself a favor and make a financial goal that's fun for you, like saving money for a hobby you like or planning out the ultimate summer vacation. When you have short term goals that you're looking forward to, you're a lot more likely to achieve them, and when you achieve the goals you really like, it can give you the experience you need to achieve those long term necessary financial goals as well.

Surprising financial goals

Making Your Financial Goals SMART

While we're discussing financial goals, you should be aware that you're more likely to achieve your goals if you make them SMART. In other words, your goals should be:

  • Specific--How much money will you need to reach your goal?
  • Measurable--How will you measure your progress toward your goal?
  • Attainable--Where will you get the money to reach your goal?
  • Realistic--Is it possible to put aside money for your goal?
  • Time-Bound--How long will it take to reach your goal?

Let's take the goal of financial independence as an example. If you'd like to be financially independent, you'll need to figure out:

  • Specific--How much money would you need to have to be financially independent?
  • Measurable--How much money can you set aside each paycheck to reach your goal?
  • Attainable--Where will you get the money to put toward your goal?
  • Realistic--Can you put enough money away each paycheck to reach your goal?
  • Time-Bound--How long will it take you to be financially independent?

The benefit of making your financial goals SMART

The best part about making your financial goals SMART is that once you're done, you'll have created a roadmap that will help you reach your goals. You'll know how much you need to save, how much you'll want to save from each paycheck, where you'll get the money and how long you'll need to reach your goal. You'll even know if this is a goal that's relevant to your life at this time.

Another advantage of making your goals SMART is that you can adjust them as needed. If you're not happy with the time you'll need to reach your goal, for instance, you can put more money towards reaching your goal, provided you know where that money is coming from. You can even adjust how much money you think you'll need for your goal and calculate how that will affect your time frame.

Make your goals SMART goals today!

Start Setting Goals

Updating Your Existing Financial Goals

Financial goals, like many other , are not set in stone, and it's important to regularly review, and update them as needed.

Why you need to update your financial goals

Life is dynamic, and so are financial circumstances. Life changes, economic shifts, market fluctuations, and legislative changes may require adjustments to your financial goals and strategies. By regularly updating your financial goals, you can account for evolving financial circumstances, new opportunities and personal or professional developments.

Tips for Updating Your Financial Goals

When updating your financial goals, start by assessing your current financial situation, taking into account:

  • income
  • expenses
  • debt
  • savings
  • investments

Consider life changes, such as family dynamics, career developments, health or lifestyle goals, which may impact your financial priorities. Seek the advice of a financial planner or advisor to ensure that the updated goals align with your overall financial plan. Set aside time to review and update your financial goals regularly, such as annually or in response to significant life events. Finally, communicate the updated financial goals with family members, partners, or financial advisors for alignment, support, and accountability.

Set Some New Years Financial Goals With First Alliance Credit Union

Setting goals is an essential step towards financial success. While typical financial goals like creating a monthly budget, paying off credit card debt or building up your savings are all good goals, don't be afraid to set some unconventional financial goals as well. It can be something as simple as reading a book on finances or as grand as trying to be financially independent.

If you'd like help reaching the financial goals you set for this year, become a member of First Alliance Credit Union today. In addition to the several options we offer to save money for your goals, like a money market account, we also provide several free downloadable resources, including our SMART financial goal packet, our budget worksheet and our debt organizing packet.

We do our best to provide helpful information but we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article, under no circumstance does the information provided constitute legal advice. You are responsible for independently verifying the information if you intend to use it in any way. Additionally, the content is not intended to be reflective of First Alliance Credit Union’s products or services, for accurate and complete details about our product and service information you must speak to an advisor at First Alliance Credit Union.