One of the most fun parts of setting goals is seeing yourself getting closer to it with each step that you take. By tracking your progress (and celebrating your victories – something we’ll look at in the next step), becoming financially independent isn’t just a fun end goal, it should can also become a fun journey.
Regardless of your financial goal, whether it is big or small and whether it is a goal for the distant or for the near future, keeping track of how you are doing isn’t just stimulating and motivating. If you track your progress and keep your tracking somewhere easily accessible and visible, you are also reminded of your goals regularly, which in turn helps you stick to your goal.
Compare the following situations:
- Situation 1: You decide you want to save $10,000 for a specific goal. The first few days or weeks you feel very motivated and eager to get the money together and you cut out some expenses so you can assign some extra money to your goal. Yet little by little with time you start forgetting about your goal, you stop cutting some of those expenses and within a few weeks you stop putting money aside all together.
- Situation 2: You decide you want to save $10,000 for a specific goal. You get out a big piece of paper, at the top write: $10,000 for (insert your goal). You decide that for every $10 or $25 you’ll draw a dollar note. You stick the paper in your agenda, on the inside of your bathroom cabinet door or on the fridge. Every time you see the paper you are reminded of your goal and how much you have left to save, which motivates you to take another small step so you can contribute just a little more and draw another dollar note. The more you save, the more motivated you become as you keep seeing the number of dollar note pictures increasing on the paper.
See how different tracking your progress can be in order to actually progress even more and keep up your goal? Tracking isn’t just to see how much you have saved. You can also use this strategy to track how much you have paid off a specific debt.
Here are some ideas:
- Get a piece of graph paper – the one with the little squares – and determine how much each square represents: $10, $25, $50 or even more. Draw a box around the number of squares that you need to get to your goal. For example if you are trying to pay down a $5,000 debt and if you’ve decided each square is worth $50 then you need 100 squares: 100 x $50 = $5,000.
- Instead of going for a plain box of 100 squares, get creative and draw a figure. Say you are saving up $3,000 to buy a secondhand car, draw a car out of the 60 squares you need.
- If you want to have different amounts represented, draw a big flower with different sized leaves with bigger leaves representing bigger amounts. Do a search on the internet on such sites as Pinterest or Instagram for more ideas.
- As an alternative to a piece of paper, consider making a mural or even a big string of papers that you colour or material that you attach to a previous piece every time you get one step closer to your goal.
- If you are saving your money in a bank account but like the idea of a coins jar, you can find a nice jar and put it other items (buttons for example) with each button representing a specific amount again. In this way you can still see your coins jar grow even if the money is safely tucked away in a bank account.
Step 92 – Track your progress – in detail:
- Think of a few goals you’d like to track: a savings goal, an investment goal, an income goal or a debt payment goal for example.. It can of course be anything you’d like to track and stay focussed on so decide which one of your goals are easily trackable.
- Have a look on the internet for some ideas on how to track them if you feel particularly creative. If you’d rather just keep it simple without any complications, just go for the easy graph paper option.
- Based on how much your end goal is and how much you can set aside daily, weekly or monthly, determine how much each unit is worth, e.g. how much is each square, flower leaf or paper ring worth?
- Count how many units you need so you know what you’re working towards to.
- Put your tracker in a visible place so that you are reminded of your goal every day and don’t need to artificially remind yourself to check and update it.
Now for the most important part: enjoy! Tracking your progress can be great fun, as you get to see how you’re moving closer to your goal each time, even if your goal is big and might take a long time. Having a tracker will keep you motivated and focussed to not give up.
Read more about my 100 steps mission to financial independence or simply decide to take control today and join us on our step-by-step quest on how to make your finances work for you, starting with step 1.