4 Steps to Reach Your Financial Goals (Even When Money’s Tight)

Jaime Ochs, April 22, 2021

Many people today are finding it harder than ever to save. But when you don’t have savings, your finances are vulnerable in the case of unexpected events, like a major car repair or healthcare bills. And you may find it challenging to achieve your financial goals — whether you want to pay off college debt, save to splurge on a dream vacation or build up a home down payment.

So what do you do? Read on for ideas to help you find the money you need and steps for setting up a success plan to meet your goals.

Make steps to reach your financial goals

 

How you can find money to save
Start by tracking all the money you spend for one month. Include fixed expenses, like rent, plus variable costs, like groceries. Then see where you can make cuts — or how you can add income — to find “new” funds to put toward your goals.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Cancel memberships you don’t use.
  • Cut back on streaming services.
  • Look for ways to reduce necessary expenses. For instance:
    • Increase your deductible to lower your car insurance premium.
    • Ask about a lower-priced phone plan.
    • Look into refinancing or consolidating student loans.
  • Eat and drink at home more instead of going out.
  • Reduce utility bills by adjusting the thermostat, turning off lights when you leave a room and watching your water usage.
  • Take on a part-time job or a side hustle to boost income.
  • Sell items you no longer want or need.

 

How to reach your financial goals
Once you know where the money is coming from, focus on what you’re saving for. These steps will help you get started and stay motivated.

  1. Know your full financial picture. Along with your income and expenses, jot down all of your debt balances, including interest rates and minimum monthly payments, as well as the balances in your savings, investment and retirement accounts. This gives you a baseline to work from in developing realistic saving and spending plans.

  2. Set goals, write them down and prioritize. Turning your dreams into specific, concrete goals increases the likelihood you’ll actually achieve them. Adding a timeline helps you prioritize your saving and spending. For instance, instead of wanting to “save money,” you might decide to “save $1,500 in 12 months for new living room furniture.” Instead of trying to “reduce debt,” you might want to “pay off your student loan in 10 years.” Then literally write down your goals. This helps make them solid and real, and helps remind you where you’re heading — and why you’re working hard to get there. It’s okay to start with small goals and increase the scope later. It’s better to have targets you can actually reach and build on than goals so big they overwhelm you and discourage you from even getting started.

  3. Identify mini-milestones. Next, determine smaller tasks to accomplish daily, weekly or monthly that will put you closer to your end goal. Hitting periodic small achievements can help you stay motivated, especially when you’re pursuing larger or longer-term goals. For instance, to save $1,500 in 12 months, your monthly task might be to put away $125 per month. Maybe you start today by setting up a $65 direct deposit from every paycheck or a monthly automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account.

  4. Monitor your progress. At least once a month, check to see where you are and if you’ve been able to keep up with your plan. If you’re struggling, then you may need to extend your timeline, revise your end goal, or find more ways to cut costs or add income to get the money you need.

When you do make progress, reward yourself. Remember that piece of your budget you set aside for fun? Now’s the time to use it!


Follow your dreams
Even when money’s tight, it’s important not to give up on your dreams. Using the tips and steps above can help you make them happen. And at Hancock Whitney, we’re here to help, too. In fact, right now, we’ll give you $251 just for opening our silver savings account2 — a great place to stash cash for your goals, plus a little starter fund.

Click here to learn more.

 

1To be eligible for the savings promotion: A Silver Savings account, with new money, not currently held by Hancock Whitney Bank, must be opened with an opening deposit of $500 or more by 6/30/21. The promo code is required at account opening. The email given at account opening must match the email address submitted to get the offer promo code. Then, maintain an average monthly balance of at least $500 through 8/31/21.

The $25 savings bonus will be based on the Silver Savings average monthly balance as of 8/31/21. If your account meets the criteria, and remains open and active, we will deposit the $25 savings bonus into your new Silver Savings account within 6 weeks after the qualification expiration date of 8/31/21. Bonuses are considered income and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT. This offer expires on 6/30/21; however, the Bank may change or discontinue this offer at any time before this date without notice. This Silver Savings offer is non-transferable and cannot be combined with other offers. Only the client to whom this offer is addressed is eligible for this offer.

2For a Silver Savings account, the Annual Percentage Yield (APY) of 0.01% is effective as of 4/1/21, in all states. Note that interest rate is variable and subject to change at the Bank’s discretion. Fees may reduce earnings on the account. $100 minimum opening deposit is required to open account. No minimum balance is required to earn interest.

The Bank will charge a $3 transaction fee for any withdrawal in excess of three per month.

Hancock Whitney Bank, Member FDIC. Accounts subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

Sources:

1. “How to Set Your Financial Goals for Success,” Bola Sokunbi, Clever Girl Finance, updated Jan. 23, 2021, https://www.clevergirlfinance.com/blog/setting-financial-goals/

2. “How to Set — and Stick with — Financial Goals in 2019,” Christy Bieber, The Motley Fool, updated July 29, 2020, https://www.fool.com/personal-finance/how-to-set-financial-goals-keep-them-2019.aspx accessed March 9, 2021

3. “9 Ways to Find More Money in Your Monthly Budget,” Bobby Hoyt, Millennial Money Man, updated Aug. 4, 2017, https://millennialmoneyman.com/9-ways-to-find-more-money-in-your-monthly-budget/, accessed March 9, 2021

4. “5 Areas Where You Can Cut Expenses Today,” Leslie Geary, Bankrate.com, posted Nov. 18, 2014, https://www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/smart-money/5-big-bills-you-can-cut-fast/, accessed March 9, 2021

5. “30 Ways to Cut Your Monthly Expenses,” Lifehack, https://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/30-ways-cut-your-monthly-expenses.html, accessed March 9, 2021