8 Ways to Meet Your Money Goals in 2023 (2024)

Written byBonnie Schiedel|Published onJanuary 13, 2023

It's that optimistic, forward-looking time of year. With your eye on the months ahead, you'll likely find yourself in planning mode. As you envision your 2023, money-related goals will likely take centre stage in much of that planning.

You may have heard of the acronym SMART or even used it when setting goals. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. But why stop there? We've got some additional tips to help you look forward with confidence and set goals that you’ll stick to.

Make it meaningful

Connecting your goal to a “why" is a powerful motivator. Why are you investing — do you want to put together a down payment on a house, or contribute more to yourRRSP(registered retirement savings plan) orRESP(registered education savings plan)? Are you making bi-weekly contributions to save for a trip to Europe? Perhaps you're picturing your child's university convocation as they start their adulthood unburdened by student debt? Whatever your “why" may be, picturing it clearly can help bring your goals to life.

Viewing your goals through a lens of positivity helps with motivation, too. After all, taking on something new and challenging can cause anxiety and fear. Instead, try flipping that narrative in your head by visualizing the payoffs: When you achieve this goal, what will you feel? What will you do? Who else will benefit? Optimistic self-motivation can help you get you where you want to go.

Break it down

Big goals can be overwhelming. If you break it down into smaller steps, your goal becomes less of a faraway destination and more of a map to get you there. “I'm going to invest an extra $7,000 this year" might be an excellent goal, but it's daunting without achievable steps to get there. Instead, think monthly ($583), weekly ($135) or even daily ($19), and make a list of concrete ways to contribute that amount. You may even do better than you planned. Some research has found that by reframing a big goal by breaking it down into smaller chunks, people may actually end up exceeding their initial target.

It can be helpful to break up your goals into chunks of time, too. Often, it takes a while to gain momentum. Instead of fixating on reaching a goal within a year, you could try tracking your progress every three months. Want to save a certain amount for a trip, for example? Checking in on your holdings makes it easier to pinpoint any shortfalls and rejig your plans accordingly. RBC Direct Investing clients can find a breakdown of how their account is faring using the Account Performance tool under the Monitor menu — just set the time frame to whatever helps keep you motivated.

Get specific

Research has shown that you are two to three times more likely to stick to your goals if you know the when, where and how, notes James Clear, author of the bestselling bookAtomic Goals. What does this look like for financial goals? How about: “I will review my portfolio at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays in my home office" or “I will route 10 per cent of my paycheque to my TFSA account every second Friday at 9 a.m." (Yes,thatspecific!)

Consider obstacles

Know yourself! The more self-awareness you show (that is, paying attention to your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours — the central idea behindbehavioural economics), the more likely you may be able to predict and identify goal-related obstacles. Investors also have many tools that help them identify potential challenges, uncovered by doing carefulresearchand monitoring headlines and global trends.

The next step, of course, is to make a plan (a specific one – see above!) to deal with those obstacles, whether it's directing funds to a rainy-day account, putting your credit card away after hitting a certain limit each month or automating your savings with a bi-weeklypre-authorized savings plan.

Document and share

Sometimes, telling people about a goal and making it public can help a resolution stick. Or, mapping out steps in writing to achieve a goal can be helpful.

Consider sharing your goals with friends to create accountability. You could apply these approaches to your financial goals by posting something short and snappy on your social media on a monthly basis if that's your thing, asking a friend if you can do a regular check-in with them, or writing down your main steps to achieve your goal and using that list as your phone lock screen or sticking it to your bathroom mirror.

Give yourself some leeway

Planning to accomplish something by a set date is important… just be sure to add about 25 per cent more time to your calculations. Humans tend to underestimate the time required to get something done – and it can feel deflating to miss a deadlineor investing milestone. But this doesn't always mean the goal itself is unattainable. Sometimes priorities shift, so it's best to account for this in our planning.

Evaluate and adapt

Keeping track of progress along the way may also help. After all, who doesn't find it motivating to cross tasks of a to-do list? It can be the same for reaching bigger goals – seeing incremental progress can be hugely motivating to keep us on track.

As for adapting: things change that can affect your budgeting and investments. You may get a pay bump after landing a new job. Perhaps you've relocated to a smaller city that's less expensive. Maybe you had an unexpected expense pop up. As you set your financial goals, it's important to schedule dedicated time (see “Get specific" above!) to review where you stand and adapt your plan as needed.

Remember, it's not about judging your progress, but about checking in and making any necessary adjustments to stay on track. Goals don't have to be forever; they can change along the way. One way investors can rejig their plans is byrebalancing their portfolio.

Reward yourself

Positive reinforcement and celebrating reaching a goal can be a fun way to stay motivated. Look for ways to achieve small, frequent rewards along the way. You may also consider a “goal buddy" who comes up with your treat, whether it's a specialty coffee, a congratulatory text or a night out. It doesn't need to be big or dramatic – a small gesture or act that recognizes that you're making progress can do the trick.

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8 Ways to Meet Your Money Goals in 2023 (2024)
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