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Kim's Tips for Setting Smart Goals

Money Smarts with Kim

So, you’ve got plans, but you’re not sure where to start? You’re not alone. Make your financial goals mean something with these tips from our very own President & CEO Kim Sponem.

Q: Early this year I read the financial New Year’s resolution article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and one thing you said was to be specific about your goals. Can you give more examples of specific financial goals people set?

A: I was happy to be part of the article about ways to improve financial fitness in 2018. Improving financial wellness is what we are all about at Summit. For those who haven’t seen the article, I made this comment in the interview: “Rather than say, ‘I’m going to reduce my debt,’ or ‘I’m going to increase my savings,’ be really specific and creative about what you actually want to do differently. For example, instead of saying, 'I want to reduce my debt,' I might say, 'I’m going to increase my auto payment on my car loan by $20 per month.' Or I might say, 'I’m going to pay off my car loan by (date) by making two or three extra payments.'”

An important thing to keep in mind is to start where you are, and because that place can be very different depending on your financial situation, your stage in life and any life events you may be experiencing, I’ll share a variety of examples:

  • If you want to better understand where your money is going each month, you might set an action goal to track your spending for one month. Or you might want to make it super easy. If you’re a Summit Credit Union member, your action goal may be to log into online banking and use Summit’s Climbr tags to automatically categorize your spending each month. Summit’s Money Minder is a free online tool available to all Summit members through online banking and our mobile app. It helps create a budget, monitor expenses, set goals and get transaction alerts, and it is designed to make it easy to stay on track. If you are not already a member or prefer to stay with another financial institution, check with your financial institution about tools they may offer to help.
  • If you want to have more money on hand in case something unexpected happens, you might make this a goal: I will save $1,000 in an emergency fund by July 1 by automatically depositing $100 from my next 10 biweekly paychecks into this account.
  • If you’ve got some savings built up and your goal is to start investing more of it in the market, an action goal is to set an appointment this week with a Summit Financial Advisor* to learn more. You do not need to be a member of Summit Credit Union or know about investing to do this. This one action step, easily done from Summit’s website, along with actually getting to the appointment, has helped many people improve their financial lives in the short and long run. Why not you?
  • If a goal is to pay off $250 on a retail store credit card in three months, and you are paid six times in three months, an action goal could be: I will divide $250 by six to find out how much money I need to find to pay off my credit cards.
  • If you want to figure out how much you will need to retire and how far you are from that, don’t get stuck in being exact. To start, your goal might be to get some broad line items down on paper this week, like how often you’d want to buy a new car or how much you’ll want for travel.

No matter where you are in your financial life, there are steps you can take to help you get where you want to go. Start where you are, put your mind to it and never give up. :) 

*Securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution to make securities available to members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, May Lose Value, No Financial Institution Guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America. FR-2082714.1-0418-0520