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The 5 Must-Have Financial Goals

Friday, January 20 2023
Source/Contribution by : NJ Publications

Setting financial goals is the most important aspect that every person should think of. It is an important step towards becoming financially secure. Whether it is related to career, marriage, retirement or anything else, a clear awareness of resources and thorough planning is necessary. A goal sets you off in a certain direction and crystallises your aims, making it easier to visualise something that could be very far away, giving you focus and motivation.

But, most of us completely ignore this part and do not set financial goals due to a lack of clarity in financial planning. If you don’t have any specific financial goal to work on, you’re more inclined to spend more than you should. Later, when you get unexpected expenses, you might get stuck in the vicious cycle of loans. Eventually, you feel like you never had enough cash to save.

Even the most prudent person can't prepare for every crisis, as the world learned in the pandemic. What thinking ahead does is give you a chance to work through things that could happen and do your best to prepare for them. Financial goals will help you change your mindset, your habits and your life. You’ll start to see how every decision you make matters to your greater financial health. Knowing your goals enables you to work out roughly how much money you might need to save in order to achieve them.

It can be hard to narrow down which financial goals are right for you. Here are some common, must-have financial goals that everyone should make a priority in their lives.

  1. Emergency Fund: Emergencies can derail our financial health if we’re not adequately prepared for them. Maintaining an adequate emergency fund will give you a stronger sense of security and ensure that emergencies are easier to manage when they strike as you have a cash reserve to fall back on, if necessary. These funds would help you tackle unexpected events such as job loss, a large medical expense and so on. It is advised that your emergency fund should be at least three to six times your current income.
  1. Comprehensive Insurance Umbrella: Do you have a family who is dependent on your income? Do you want to be financially protected against risks to life and health? If so, you need to pay attention to your insurance needs. Having insurance is another important financial goal that will save you and your family from unexpected financial setbacks. It is also important that your cover /protection must be adequate for the purpose it is meant for. The must-have covers to consider are - life, health and personal accident. Health protection should be there for every individual in the family. Beyond this, you can also explore products like critical illness, top-up /super top-up health covers to enhance your health protection and a comprehensive home insurance. All this put together acts a big umbrella against the most common uncertainties we face in life. 
  1. Being Debt Free: Debt makes it almost impossible to effectively save for the future as a major part of your income will go on paying off debt along with the interest. But, not all debt is the same. Debt taken for depreciating assets and for consumables /expenses /holidays, etc are especially bad and a strict no-no. If you can’t afford to pay for such expenses as a down-payment, then probably you don’t deserve it. Before deciding to repay loans, identify the type of debt i.e. good debts and bad debts you have. Good debt like home loans can help you achieve goals and tend to have lower interest rates. Bad debt like credit card dues, car loans, personal loans drag down your financial situation with high interest rates. So, focus on paying expensive debt first to better your financial standing. This allows you to save more money and redirect funds to other financial goals. 
  1. Retirement Planning: For most of us “retirement” could mean relaxing at home or enjoying life with passions. But, are these things possible without money and peace of mind? No, right. So, planning and saving for retirement is paramount. For most Indians, their kids are like their retirement planning. Is it fair and wise? To have financial independence and self-sustenance in retirement, regular savings is a must. Generally, people get serious about retirement planning only when they are about to reach their 50s. It’s like running a marathon race and getting serious about winning when you enter the last mile. Start investing for retirement as early as possible. It should have started right when you started earning. The sooner you plan for your retirement the less you need to save and power will be the time available for power of compounding. When you start saving early, you have sufficient time to accumulate required funds for retirement. Thus, the task of building a large retirement corpus for your retired life becomes just a bit easier.
  1. Budgeting: More than a financial goal, this is like a financial habit or behaviour. No matter how small the income or expense, you should keep track of it. Many people tend to spend without thinking, which results in overspending, financial stress and hardship. Creating and adhering to a budget will allow you to track everything you spend and question yourself where did you fall short in your saving goal and where is your money leaking through your fingers. This will also help you to avoid unnecessary expenses and become financially smart.

The Bottom Line

Reaching a point of financial well-being in life has nothing to do with luck or magic. It’s simply a matter of setting should financial goals and having a concrete plan as to how you will achieve them. By setting (and achieving) the above financial goals you can make the right start and before you move on to the more in-depth exercise of identifying and planning for other life goals. Till then, lets’ at least focus on these five must-have financial goals in life. 

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