How to Set and Reach Financial Goals with Betterment

For many years, I have been resistant to the idea of setting financial goals; instead, I have opted to accumulate wealth so that I have the means to make purchases when needed. This wealth-building approach can be effective, and is certainly better than not saving, investing, and growing assets.

Still, there are at least a couple of shortcomings to general wealth building: 1) I’m not sure when my goal has been achieved; and 2) I’m reluctant to spend down the assets that I’ve worked so hard to accumulate, largely because I’m not clear about the purpose of my investments and the timing of withdrawals.

Goal setting can inspire me to save and invest, and make me feel happier and more secure about spending.

My Reaction to How to Retire Early (Book)

Recently, a reader pointed me to How To Retire Early: Your Guide to Getting Rich Slowly and Retiring on Less by Robert and Robin Charlton. She mentioned this book is an example of the type of information that can be helpful to readers as they pursue and achieve financial goals.

According to the book and its charts, the authors accumulated over $900,000 (on a relatively modest combined income of less than $100,000 per year for most of their investing years), retired early at age 43, and began traveling the world. You can see where they’ve been at Where We Be and learn about their investing, frugal living, and retirement journeys.

How Short Term Goals Help Me Reach Long Term Goals

When I happened upon an article entitled “Maybe You Should Stop Setting Retirement Goals” by Certified Financial Planner Roger Whitney (aka The Retirement Answer Man), I felt validated. I have lots of short term goals but no set-in-stone retirement plans.

For most of my younger life, I failed at envisioning and expressing my long term goals, particularly when speaking with a financial planner. When I was in my twenties and thirties, I feared expressing unconventional goals and hesitated to mention my dreams as they rarely seemed to align with what traditional planners deemed normal.

Financial Goals: How to Reach Them (Basic Formulas)

After you have defined your financial goals, you may want to figure out how to reach your goals. There are many variables and detours on the way to achieving your goals. But you may find basic financial calculations helpful in charting your course.

Start by identifying a dollar value for each goal; then determine how much you should set aside to reach this goal within a certain time frame. You can use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to perform these calculations. I’ll show you the basics.

6 Financial Goals to Consider

When I was younger, I was often told by financial professionals that I needed to set financial goals. I heard that I should first define my life ambitions. Next, I needed to marry my professional and personal aims with specific financial goals. Then I could plot my path to achieving my dreams.

However, when I was in my early twenties, I hadn’t yet gotten clarity on exactly how I might spend the next 30 to 50 years of my life. More than three decades after my first awkward conversation with a financial professional, I’ve learned that I am (relatively) normal.

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