Keeping your financial goals in mind as you go about everyday life can have a huge impact on your ability to reach them. Maybe you want to buy a home in the near future, or maybe you would like to be one of those “lucky” individuals who gets to retire early. Whatever your financial goals are, keeping them top of mind will help you make better spending decisions.
My uncle had always wanted to retire early. He recently achieved his dream at 48, an age when most people are starting to accumulate what money they can before becoming too old for work. I spoke at length with him about this and, sure enough, he credited his success to always keeping his financial goal top of mind when making decisions.
He made a relatively good income, but nothing out of the ordinary. What really set him apart, as he put it, is that his car was always the cheapest one in the parking lot of his firm, and that he wore much cheaper suits than his colleagues. He could have afforded a luxury car if he had wanted to, he even could have paid for it in cash, but throughout his life he always made sure to focus on what was really important to him, and he achieved his goal. I’m not saying that everyone should live the way my uncle did, but I think it’s a powerful example of what constantly keeping your financial goals in mind can accomplish for you.
The “Just This Time” Trap
The trap that most of us fall into is thinking “just this time” and making decisions we know to go against on long-term financial goals. The truth is that all those exceptions really do add up. Imagine for example that you set yourself a 5 year period of time to accumulate a down payment for a house. 5 years is a long time, it’s 260 weeks. How many times do you think you’ll make unnecessary purchases over that period? How many times will you buy something you want but don’t need, and how many times will you eat out instead of taking a few minutes to make a lunch over those 260 weeks? The answer is many-many-many times. Probably enough to add a huge chunk of money to that down payment.
Next time you’re tempted by an impulse buy, or too lazy to get off the couch and prepare a lunch for the next day, try to keep your long-term financial goals in mind and save your money for what really matters to you. The long-term satisfaction of achieving your goals will far outweigh the little bursts of satisfaction that consumption provides.