How to set achievable financial goals

Financial freedom is one goal we’d all like to achieve. Australians have some of the largest levels of household debt in the world – in fact, the second highest in the world – which prevents us from achieving financial freedom.

However, achieving financial freedom is not as elusive as it sounds. It’s all about setting financial goals and working towards ticking them off the ‘to do’ list.

And although financial goals are as individual as we are, the way to achieve them is the same.

Did you know?

Outside of our home or investment property loan, the average personal debt for Australians is $48,809 (this includes car loans, credit card debt, HECS and after pay debt).

Source: Canstar

What’s your goal?

The first thing to do is to set a financial goal. It could be big or small; short, medium or long term. 

You may want to pay off the credit card, save a deposit for your first home, create a ‘rainy day’ savings account or put away $x each week for the kids’ education, for a holiday, for a new car. Be realistic about your goals and remember that most goals won’t be achieved overnight.

Write down what you’re spending money on

There’s often a huge disconnect between what we think we’re spending, and what we’re actually spending. That takeaway coffee you buy each day? It doesn’t seem like much when you ‘tap and go’ with your credit card, but it ends up being around $1500 a year spent on your caffeine fix! And don’t even start with buying your lunch each day … that’s a whopping $2,800 per year!

The first thing to do is get a handle on what you’re spending your money on. Make a list of all your expenses, such as:

  • housing
  • energy and utilities
  • food
  • phone and internet
  • clothing and footwear
  • transport
  • health services
  • insurance
  • education and childcare
  • leisure and entertainment

It can be a real eye-opener to see on paper what we’re actually spending on each category! 

See where you can save

Next, go back to the list you’ve just made and see where you can make savings. Work out what are ‘needs’ versus ‘wants’. You may need to make sacrifices – for example, going out for a meal once a month, as opposed to once a week – but it’s worth it in order to achieve financial goals.

Shop around to find the best price for energy, utilities, insurance and phone – even your mortgage! There are loads of comparison websites that can do all the legwork for you which could save you thousands.  

Set a budget

The key to achieving financial goals is all down to budgeting. You know what you spend your money on, and you’ve identified where you can make savings. Now it’s time to set some limits for your spending in a budget.

Writing a budget helps you feel like you’re in control of your money and spending – it’s a great way to feel more financially empowered.

Use our budget worksheet to get started.

Track your spending

We have so much technology at our fingertips, so why not put it to good use? For example, there are lots of budgeting and finance apps out there that can really help you keep on top of your spending. You can even set limits for your spending – it’s a great way to keep on top of your expenses.

Aim to build up savings

Try to build some savings. Many of us don’t have savings stashed away for that ‘rainy day’ – which could be to cover unexpected bills or repairs. Instead, we rely on credit cards, which can cause you to fall even further down that financial rabbit-hole.

Open an account that’s just for savings and whenever you can, put a little money into it.

Get financial advice

Financial advice is not just for the wealthy – our financial planners are here to help you every step of the way through your financial journey.

Call Member Services on 1800 757 607 to make an appointment with a planner.

The information on this page has been issued by Maritime Financial Services Pty Limited (MFS). It contains general information that doesn’t take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It’s important to consider how appropriate this general information is in relation to your situation before making an investment decision. We recommend that you seek financial advice before making any decisions regarding your super or investments. The information on this page is current at the time of publishing.