When managing your finances, it is important to create a benchmark that allows you to stay accountable.
What does it mean to be accountable? Accountability is about setting an expectation for yourself by defining your goal and then holding yourself to it.
How do you set goals? There’s a standard framework you may have heard of called a “SMART” goal. What makes a goal SMART?
A goal must be:
- Specific: Your goal must state exactly what it is you would like to accomplish
- Measurable: It should involve something quantifiable, such as a specific dollar amount or a percentage (e.g. saving 20% of every paycheck)
- Attainable: It should be realistic to achieve. I recommend saving that goal of owning a Ferrari until after you are first able to pay off your debt.
- Relevant: It should be relevant to your larger objective (e.g. financial independence!)
- Time-Bound: It should set a rough timeline for when you expect to achieve it. The exact timeline is less important than taking steps to be on the path toward that goal.
Now that we have defined what it means to be accountable and how to set goals, the next question is, how do you stay accountable? The three ways I would recommend are:
1. Write your goals in a notebook or somewhere that will be easily accessible to you
2. Make a commitment to check these goals with a set level of frequency (e.g. twice a month)
3. Find an accountability buddy. By connecting with someone in a similar position as you who has the same financial goals, you can communicate with one another about your developments, ask for advice, and keep one another accountable with routine check-ins.