If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I love S.M.A.R.T. goals. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals help you create goals that are realistic and actually attainable.  This year is a big year for me because I’m turning 40, so I feel like I should become a little more responsible in my “old” age. I struggled financially for so many years after my time of unemployment and FINALLY, I’m in a great place career-wise. Now is the time for me to get my finances in order. I started doing that late last year by making some S.M.A.R.T. financial goals about my money.

I have three financial goals this year:

1. Pay off my credit card by August.

Theoretically, this goal should be the easiest to achieve because my credit card balance is only $1,200. Compared to the majority of people my age, the average amount of credit card debt is triple my current balance. However, I’ve only been paying the minimum payment, which has barely made a dent in my balance. In December, I made a change to my monthly payments and have increased it to $150 monthly, so by August, I should have the credit card paid off.

2. Start paying off my student loans.

A couple of years ago, at the urging of an old employer, I went back to school to obtain my bachelor’s degree so that I could further my career goals. A few months after going back to school. that same employer laid me off. Since I wasn’t working, I decided to knock out as many courses as I could to obtain my bachelor’s.

I remember when I signed the first my financial aid papers. I hesitated for a moment because I knew that by signing those papers, I would instantly be adding $10,000 of debt to my name. I ended up staying in school for a total of 2 years, totaling my student loan debt to $20,000. Nationwide, 40-year old borrowers owe an average of $43,970 in student loans and I have friends who have at least $100,000 in student loans. So I am grateful that I only owe $20K, however, I haven’t paid anything on my loans since I ended my schooling a couple of years ago.  By now my loans are probably in default. I know it’s not a good situation, but my goal is to rectify that ASAP and start making some loan payments.

3. Save $8,000 this year.

This by far is going to be the hardest goal I set for the entire year. I’ve never been a saver. I hate saving. I think the word budget is a BAD word. But logging into your bank account and seeing several zeros or commas is a great feeling. I also feel like I am too old not to have substantial savings outside of my 401K or not have a real emergency fund.

Outside of a few small credit card purchases (under $60), I’ve operated my life for the past few years on a cash-only basis; meaning I’ve only used the cash-on-hand for purchases/spending. If I didn’t have the money in the bank, then I couldn’t buy it or spend it.  However, my spending habits have been trash. I hate depriving myself of anything that I want. If my spending habits had a theme song, Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” would be it, “I see it. I want it.  I like it. I got it.” That is exactly how I’ve lived my life, all my life.

But I have realized that my bank account does not have the same balance as Ariana’s and I can’t always live my life like Fabolous and “Throw It In the Bag” all the time. Well maybe I can, but I should definitely be paying myself first by making sure I save some coins before I spend some coins.

Last year, I started using the Qapital app, which allows you to create savings goals and then choose the rules for saving. For instance, I started a Travel savings to save money to pay for flights for my personal travel this year. The savings account is linked to my debit card, so it rounds all my transactions up to the nearest $2, any time I hit my daily steps goal, it will automatically deposit $5 into the savings. I also like the Qapital app because you can set rules for guilty pleasures. My guilty pleasures are Amazon and Wendys, so anytime I spend money at those retailers, the app also deposits money into my savings.

I love Qapital because they take out little amounts from your bank account, so you don’t feel the withdrawals as much as you would a large one. If you’re interested in trying out Qapital, use my referral code: https://get.qapital.com/cRv82iwZH2  and we’ll both get $5 towards our savings.

In addition to my Qapital Saving, I opened a high-interest savings account. My goal is deposit money into that account every payday. So pray for me.

In order to give myself some accountability, I may start sharing how much I am able to save every month. Stay tuned.

Ready to make your SMART financial goals?  Fill out the form below to get my free SMART Goals Guide which goes into greater detail about how to set your goals and use the accompanying Worksheet to plot out your goal.

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