You always have the best intentions — you want to transform your financial life and so you create money goals. But time and time again, you seem to fall short. You’re not reaching your money goals, which then leads to feeling shame and becoming paralyzed.
So you give up.
Does this sound familiar? If you’ve consistently been failing at your money goals, don’t give up quite yet. It’s time to investigate the reasons why you may be failing at your money goals.
1. You are not being realistic
I am a big fan of creating larger than life goals that seem impossible in order to get you motivated. For example, when I first started my blog, I had $57,000 in student loans. I had a goal of paying it off in four years. At the time, I was making $12 per hour and given my current situation, there was no way that would happen. Well, a lot changed during that time and I paid off my remaining debt in three years.
That goal was big for me but still somewhat based on what I knew was possible. If I said I’d wanted to pay $57,000 off in a year, then I wouldn’t be realistic at all and would have failed.
You want to create goals just outside of your comfort zone — something that will make you a bit uneasy but still based on reality. Being realistic means looking at your current income and expenses, projecting your growth for the years to come, and understanding what’s possible given your situation.
It’s easy when you read personal finance blogs to think because someone did this or did that, that you can too. But everyone’s circumstances are different. If you have kids, you can’t compare your life to someone who is single and childless. If you live in New York City, you can’t compare your expenses to someone living in the Midwest. Remember, create realistic goals based on your own life, not anyone else’s.
2. Your goals aren’t specific enough
At the beginning of the year, people often say, “I want to make more money!” or “I want to save more this year.” But, who doesn’t want that? Those statements are generally true for everyone and they are not at all specific.
When creating money goals you want to be as specific as possible. For example, if you say “I want to make $10,000 more this year with side hustling,” you need to make an average of $833 extra per month or around $200 per week.
Having that level of specificity can help you zone in on your goals and work backward on how to get there. Once you know how much you need to do every month, every week, and every day, you can set up an action plan to get there. When you are vague, it’s not helpful or motivating. Not only that, but it’s making your goal a moving target, and you won’t really know when you meet it either. So, be clear and specific!
3. You’re not tracking your money or progress
Going after your money goals can be fun and inspiring, but it does mean doing some other things that aren’t as fun. That includes tracking your income and expenses and knowing exactly where your money is going. If you want to only spend $300 per month on groceries but aren’t keeping good records, then you probably won’t meet your goal.
If you aren’t tracking how much extra money you’re making on your side hustle, then you don’t know how far you have to go. On the other hand, you won’t know if you’ve reached your goal and need to make bigger and better ones.
You have to do the nitty gritty dirty work and track your income and expenses to see where you are with your goals so you can change course if you need to.
4. You haven’t addressed the root cause of the problem
When you set money goals, there will always be challenges along the way. You have to address the root cause of your problem and identify the challenges that are in your way. You also want to identify any spending triggers that can derail you.
For example, if you’re trying to get out of credit card debt but have not addressed the fact that you have a spending issue, it will be tough to get ahead.
When I was paying off debt, my challenge was my income. I was not making a lot of money and knew I had to earn more through side hustling. I also identified that my spending triggers were when I was hungry or tired. Whenever I was one or both of those things, any rational ideas about saving money went out the window. I would buy fancy coffee or eat out in order to feel better. When I recognized that I made a concerted effort to get better sleep and brought granola bars wherever I went to avoid being famished.
5. You have lost motivation
When you first start a money goal, you’re super jazzed and ready to conquer the world. You have a plan to execute! You know what you want. But after a while, you may lose motivation. At first, it may be disguised in excuses like “I’m just busy right now” or “I’m tired” but really you’re just not excited about your money goal anymore and have lost motivation.
When you lose motivation, you need to connect back to the why of your money goal. Why is this money goal important? Is it to pay down debt? Is it so you can pay for your kids’ education? Or, is it to finally take that belated honeymoon with your spouse? Reconnect with the why.
Go on Pinterest and create a vision board for your money goals. What does it look like? Acknowledge that you’ve lost motivation, and find ways to get excited about your money goals again.
If you’ve failed at your money goals, it doesn’t mean you should give up. It means you’re human and you should try again — this time with a different strategy. Examine these five common reasons why your money goals aren’t happening and refocus and start again. You can do it!