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How Do You Hope to Improve Your Finances Next Year?

Goal setting is hugely important for actually getting what you want. It’s one thing to wish for something, it’s another thing to actually make a plan to get it. Goal setting is part of that plan.

How Do You Hope to Improve Your Finances Next Year-

Ok, it’s question time:

  • What’s your top financial priority next year?
  • Your other goals?
  • Your—dare I say—financial resolutions?

Please share your goals in a comment.

I’m obviously writing this around the New Year, but it doesn’t matter when you do this exercise. I mean, there’s nothing special about January 1st, right? How can it be the date when we REALLY ARE going to start hitting the gym, cut back on sugar, and finally pay off that credit card balance?

Although I would argue that there’s nothing magical about the first of the year that’s suddenly going to make developing new habits any easier, taking time to SET GOALS and figuring out HOW TO GET THERE is important. Not as important as, say, actually DOING WHAT IT TAKES, but it’s a first step.

And I think big time frames work especially well for financial goals because it takes so long to see improvements. Cutting out $100 a month of spending to pay down debt hurts immediately, but that debt still hangs around for a long time. I’ve recommended making a five-year financial plan before, but a year works, too.


Need help setting some goals for next year? Try this. Grab a blank piece of paper and write down the following:

  • This year I earned $…. Next year, I will earn $…. In order to make that happen, I need to ….
  • Today, I have $… in debt. In a year, I will only be $… in debt. In order to make that happen, I need to ….
  • Today, I have $… saved. In a year, I will have $… saved. In order to make that happen, I need to ….
  • Finally…I really want to spend my time doing …. In order to make that happen, I need to ….


I’ve written about my own personal goals for several years since starting Money Under 30.

In the early years, it was all about paying off credit card debt, which I finally did in 2009. What a difference a few years makes. In 2010,  the freshly debt-free me maxed out retirement accounts, fully funded an emergency fund, bought a house and had a baby.

Today, I’m financially secure, and my financial goals are straightforward: Be able to again max out retirement savings, set aside money in our kids’ 529 plans, and allocate money to give charitably.

It’s a good reminder that no matter how tight things seem, things can change dramatically if you put your mind to it. We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in six months or a year, but underestimate what we can accomplish in five years.

That’s mine, now share yours! What financial goals do you hope to achieve this year?

Published or updated on December 1, 2014

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. Tayana says:

    Im 24 this year,got a great job thats now sent me to do my masters in electrical engineering and automation, managed to fit in work there aswel. This year has been really great, managed to buy my first car a bmw 2009 320i cash,i also bought a house in north china (my girlfriend’s chinese). I dont have any loans to pay back, absolutely debt free . I still have 14k saved and planning on investing it in property in Durban. So hopefuly my studies will go well and i plan to save much more, i already live on less than half of what i make. Dont wanna get married and have kids as of yet, will wait till like 29.. :), As a young Black African,i’d like to say to everyone here, Hope you all reach your Goals and dreams,never say never, If you Believe you can Achieve.

  2. Steve says:

    I’m 26 and I want to start an IRA and max it out. Also to save an additional 5k.

  3. Jennifer Lissette says:

    Just found your blog and wanted to share! I’m 27 years old, a stay-at-home mom and have two financial goals for this year. Number one is to max out my husband’s 401k. We just upped our withholding last week, so we are on course for that.

    The other is to pay off 10% of our mortgage principle. I’m basically in charge of the day to day money operations of our household (though we make large decisions together). Any time I can squeeze a few more dollars from our budget, it can go toward achieving this goal.

    Last year we paid off all of our consumer debt and opened a college fund for our son. This year, we have another baby on the way! It’s been an exciting couple of years!

  4. The Oil Barron In Training says:

    Just turned 24 and have been working for a year and a half in a great paying job. I was lucky enough to graduate college debt free due to scholarships and some high paying internships. I made the cliche move and bought not just a new car, but two cars last year. I bought a BMW cash and put half down on my used Viper. I still owe 18k on the viper. I am single, do not own a house, and live on less than half of what I bring each month.

    My goals for this year:
    – Pay off my car note in full
    – increase my investment account by 10k
    – start saving up for a house (looking at collecting 300-400k in the next 3 years)
    – Continue working towards what I call “total financial freedom”

  5. Rachel S. says:

    I only worked one work-study job for the majority of 2010 until I got a second job I love (at T.J. Maxx!) to help with expenses. I also bought a very good used car with the money I was getting in.

    My goals for 2011:
    – I’ll pay off all my credit card debt with financial aid leftovers (that stands at around $550)
    -with that taken care of, I’m willing to budget more using mint.com, which has helped me see where my money’s going this past year
    -I’m also planning on saving most of the money I earn for emergencies and rainy days
    -I should also look into getting some miscellaneous loans for school paid down that aren’t tied in with the DOE

    Overall, I want to see my money work for me instead of seeing it disappear which will help me establish habits later in life.

  6. Steven says:

    2010 was a good year. I was able to pay off all of my credit cards within 6 months after graduating.

    In 2011 I hope to:
    1)Finish paying my car note ($3 remaining).
    2)Save at least $10,000.
    3)Increase my 401k contribution 1-2%

    What I will do with the $10,000 in 2012 is the real question. Buy a Corvette? Max out an IRA account? Right now I’m undecided — maybe I’ll get to do both :-)

  7. Michelle says:

    In priority order…
    1)Save 20% down payment for 1st house
    2)Save enough for expenses needed along with #1, furniture, misc expenses
    3)Trade in current beater car, for new car
    4)Save enough to pay for my wedding.

    Wishful goals:
    1) Get a big promotion and pay increase :)
    2) Save up seed money, while coming up with a business idea/plan to start a business and be self-reliant and quit my job!

  8. Sara says:

    Love everyone’s goals!

    Mine are to:
    1) Pay off remainder of student loans (just a little bit left!)
    2) Pay off both my and my husband cars (again, just a little bit left!)
    3) Save 20% for down payment, and hopefully be in our first house by the end of the year. (Hoping our mortgage payment is less than our rent payment too!)

    Should be a great year financially! (Granted, we have been really been working towards these goals for the last 2.5 years)

  9. The tough thing is the flipflopping back and forth between goals. One day I want to go forward and buy a house. The next day I want to pay down the excessive 6 figure student loan debt my wife and I have from graduate school. Sometimes I feel like are financial futures are alright, others I worry about buying small purchases like a box of tic-tacs. We do have some money saved, we are good savers and very frugal, but I always go back to the fact that i have a negative net-worth because of our student loans. That will not change for a long time. Our goals right now will be to continue paying down debt and saving for a 50k “emergency fund.”

  10. What’s your top financial priority next year?
    I want to get on track with an actual budget to know where my money is going. Not so much because I over spend, but because I think I can be more responsible (Eg: spending hundreds eating out, instead of packing my own lunch)

    Your other goals?
    Going to focus on developing my side business, growing my blog, getting more active, showing up to work on time (ak), and finishing my degree.

    Your—dare I say—financial resolutions?
    Going to pay off my $10,000 student loan, and max out my yearly retirement contribution, $10,000 by the end of the year. $20 grand in 1 year is going to be interesting!

  11. Myy says:

    My goals:
    – save for emergency fund
    – not make the same mistakes as I did this year financially
    – make my money grooooooow :]

  12. Hank says:

    1. Increase my side income business’ revenue
    2. Create a fund to buy a rental property

  13. Wow! How did you TRIPLE your income? The most I ever did was increase my income by 15% one month, and that was a 4 figure increase in side income!

    Tell us your secret!

  14. Todd says:

    I am currently 25 years old and have lived with my parents while working a job I didn’t care for. Since I got a new job that I will be starting in the new year, I wish to do as good as possible at it since I can see myself working there for quite a while. I’m also moving so I want to get a nice budget created so I’m not worrying how much I’m saving. I managed to save around 10K (had 15K but dumped 5K in Roth IRA). On Jan. 1st I plan on investing $1000 in the stock market to see how it does.

    Dave, I just wanted to say that I just came accross your blog and and really enjoy reading your posts. Keep up the good work!

  15. Julian says:

    I am 20 years old. Currently have $8k saved over the past nine months of work, and I’m hoping to save at least $15k in 2011. I currently have no debt, and I am dumping money in to a secured credit card. Hope to qualify for a real credit card in 2011. I also want to go back to school, and learn more about investing. I plan on maitaining my 97′ Ford throughout the year and resisting the temptation to purchase a newer car. Oh, and NOT have kids or get married!

  16. Tim says:

    Wow- I have to say everyone has alot of great goals! Nobody’s goal is to buy a new 3D-TV or brand new BMW…haha

    As far as my goals…I hope to pretty much keep doing what I’m doing…contributing to my 401K, steadily paying down debt,establishing an emergency savings, and ignoring the impulses to spend on big ticket items (TV’s, Home Theatre, Cars, etc…) Oh, and I’m getting married in July! So there’s always that…we have lived together for 2 years, and owned our house for 4 months so I’d like to improve our budgeting skills and get her more included on our finances.

    That’s the great thing about 20-somethings…there’s such a range of where people are in their lives- but it’s all very exciting..new jobs, some graduating from grad school, kids!, new houses, engagements, marriages…the list goes on and on…

    All I can say is good luck everybody! Keeping up on sites like this will definitely help us stay on track. Oh, and for all of the military folks here- thank you for all you do!

  17. Kerrie says:

    I’m 27 and happily married for the last 9 years. Hubby is deployed for the first 6 months on this year and then we are planning to get pregnant as soon as he gets back, so my #1 goal is to save as much money in liquid savings as possible. I’m on track to have $18k by June, then subtract $6k to pay off my credit card in July (at 0% now that expires in August), which will leave me with about $12k liquid. I’d like to get back up to $18k by the end of 2011. I’m still debating what I should put down on a new/used car, as we will need a larger vehicle once we have a baby. But that’s probably going to wait until early 2012. So basically I’d just like to save save save and have lots of cash in my savings account! :)

    • Monica says:

      Hey Kerrie – Probably a dumb question: unless you have a two-seater, why does a baby require a larger vehicle? Not questioning your decision at all, just curious why that would be… safety?

      For me, I’m a little nervous about starting a business in 2011. My goal for that year is to not have to go into debt personally and not touch my Roth IRA… and hopefully make a profit by the end of 2012.

    • Kerrie & Monica:

      Having just had a baby this year, I can attest to the fact that there is something about babies that creates this DEEP urge to buy a new car. It’s weird! (I wouldn’t rule out the effect of years of successful advertisments featuring pregnant car buyers and moms in minivans…but anyway.)

      For several months I was obsessed over replacing my extended cab Toyota Tacoma with a sedan or SUV. I had several justifications…primarily safety and space (my wife’s sedan is small fills up fast on our 2hour car trips to visit family). Ultimately, however, I decided a car can wait. My truck is only six years old and paid for. It accomodates infant seats safely. Our only limitation is that on long car trips we have to pack strategically to fit everything in my wife’s car.

      So I think there are many good for wanting a larger, newer (and presumably safer) car when you start a family. But if it doesn’t make sense financailly yet, you might also be surprised how you can make due with what you have—as I was!

      • Kerrie says:

        Monica and David,
        I do indeed have an old small two-door Pontiac that will not hold a car seat. My husband’s car is a great 4-door Kia Spectra, but mine is an older car I got in college. It still runs okay, but it’s needed some repairs recently and has almost 200,000 miles on it. This is not a decision we take lightly. We’ve been researching vehicles for the last six months and will continue to wait for at least another year until we have enough money saved to pay cash for over half of it, if not all of it.

        We’ve also calculated and budgetted for the added expense of actually caring for a baby. Hubby and I are “planners” and so we done make any decision lightly or on a whim. :)

        • David Weliver says:

          Didn’t mean to imply you were taking the decision lightly, Kerrie…I’d be doing the same thing if I were you! 😉 Thanks for sharing your story!

  18. I just posted yesterday on my blog as to how their is no magic January 1 magic and called for yesterday to be happy un-new year’s. As you stated here, the focus is to do whatever it takes to stop being robotic, and to focus on your goals. it is very easy in the monotony of life to live day to day without thinking of where the path you are on is leading you. My goal in 2011 is to try and be a better and more patient person/husband/professional, and hope everything else flows from that. Have a great holiday season!

  19. Brian says:

    #1 goal is to sell the second house (my wife an I each had houses when we married and are still trying to sell the extra). Once that is complete, the rest of my financial goals for the year will be easily attainable, as we have a large amount of equity built up and will get a decent chunk of change back. Additionally, simply freeing up the monthly payment on that house will allow for large increases in our investments and paying down the mortgage on our main house.

    Past that, my goal is to get started on some (or at least one) projects I’ve been thinking about for making extra money on the side.

  20. James says:

    Earn more, spend less and save/invest more

  21. Bishnu says:

    Well I’m 24 and continue to realize that I am getting a head start on financial security over my peers. My goals for 2011 are to hit my $50K savings mark, minimize spending, try to generate some more income, stay debt free(credit card), support girlfriend in completing her bachelors and hopefully she moves on to a nursing program, and finally maybe get engaged before 2012 comes around. Well, also possibly pick up a class or two a semester to work towards my completion of my business mgmt. degree.

  22. luke…yeah! i would even take it one step further and say keep that money in the side fund and make minimum payments on your house. remember, the money in your house will not grow, it just sits. if you’ve got that money in a side fund, it will grow at least a little bit, and if you ever NEED to pay off your house then you can do so, but until then i would keep it liquid and available.

  23. wow, you did have a huge year!! I would recommend looking into becoming your own bank or you be the bank as one of the safest places to keep your emergency fund and even retirement income, no need to ride the roller coaster if you don’t have to.

    @ luke, let me offer up some interesting facts before you decide to start making extra payments on your mortgage….

    you will be better off making those ‘extra payments’ into a side fund, not your actual house. why? because think of this, what if you lost your job and were strapped for cash so you decide to go get some of the equity from your home…well mr. banker is going to ask how you plan on paying that money back and without sufficient income what will your answer be. bottom line is putting extra money in your home is losing control of some of your money. just a thought.

    • Luke says:

      Ok, so partition my bank account and set aside money every month into the “house fund” and once that is built up enough, then I can pay off the house… I will do that thanks!

  24. Luke says:

    Just turned 25 and have had full time employment over 2 years.
    Keep my job.
    Follow through with plans and generate a modest online side income.
    Get two renters in my newly purchased property.
    Rebuild my emergency fund and start paying a bit extra to my mortgage every month.

  25. Amber says:

    I have several financial goals for next year. :) Here they are:

    1. Pull off a 350-person wedding without going too much over budget (which is about $20-21K right non – yikes).

    2. Combine finances with my new husband … and not kill each other through the process. :)

    3. Meet our down payment savings goal for our first home. We’re scheduled to start looking for our first place next December which is around the time that we’ll have 20%+ for a down payment.

    Fingers crossed for a prosperous 2011! Looking forward to hearing more about your goals for next year, David! :)

  26. GW says:

    For 2010, I deployed to Afghanistan and have made a large sum of money. Next year I will continue to stay deployed and my goals are to stash away another 30K or so in investments while finishing paying off my 15 year mortgage (the first year deployed I have paid off 4 years of the loan). I have no debt and currently am 29 working on my Masters (which hopefully I will finish while deployed).

    My other goals would be to also up my emergency fund and continue to work hard to get ahead.

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