It is July 1st, which marks the start of the third quarter and the second half of the year. It is hard to believe that 2008 is already half gone, but it should be no surprise that there is still plenty of work left to be done. As we reach this midpoint, it is a good time to look back on what you’ve set out to do, and see how far you’ve come.
Review Your Goals and Progress
If you are like most people you probably set some goals early in the year either part of a new year’s resolution or just trying to get a fresh start on something. Have you stuck to achieving those goals? Have you been regularly tracking your progress? If the answer is no, this is a great time to revisit the goals and to see where you stand.
Was your goal to reduce debt? Increase savings? Get a raise? Buy a house? Whatever your goals are it is important to keep tabs on them and track your progress. We live busy lives and it is all too easy to get caught up in other things. There are a few steps you can do to get back on track.
Identify Your Goals
If your goal was to reduce your credit card debt by $5,000 this year, write it down. If you wanted to build up an emergency fund that could cover two month’s expenses, write that down. It is one thing to have goals in the back of your mind but it is something entirely different to physically write them down. Take a moment to identify the goals you had set and write them down. Also, remember that a lot of things may have happened over the past six months and you may have some new goals to add. It’s better to add them now rather than waiting until next January.
Track Your Progress
Once you have clearly identified your goals, you need to track your progress. You need to have a gauge to measure success or it will seem very difficult to accomplish what you have set out to do. Since we are at the halfway point in the year it can make measuring this success a bit easier. Back to the reducing debt by $5,000 example, you should be able to look at your situation and hopefully find your debt at around $2,500 lower at this point. If it is lower you know you’re well on your way and if it is higher it can signal something that needs more work.
Take the Next Action Steps
Identifying your goals and tracking your progress are the easy parts. Taking the action necessary to reach these goals is often the most difficult. If you are falling a bit short in reaching one of your financial goals at the midpoint in the year this is a perfect time to make adjustments. It is easier to make small changes in July to get you back on track for the year than it is to find out come January that you were way off the mark. Whether it is saving more, spending less or anything else it is much easier to make small changes along the way rather than more drastic changes less frequently.
For more detailed information about the importance of setting goals and creating a plan to achieve them I encourage you to check out number 23 in the list of 24 signs that you could be in financial trouble: A Lack of Well-Defined Goals and a Plan to Reach Them.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
For tracking goals and progress, you may also want to check out http://www.GoalsOnTrack.com, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and has time tracking. It's clear, focused, easy to navigate, worth a try.
I updated my statement of net worth - talk about depressing! This market is killing me. I should get my 2008 blogging goals out - maybe I've made better progress on some of them...
I think quarterly check-ups are a great idea. The monthly fluctuations even out, giving you a clearer picture. Each new quarter still seems to sneak up pretty quickly, though!