Professional Development Tip: Setting Financial Goals

By Alex Gunter, Gunter Financial Group of Raymond James

As we enter into a new year, goals are on the minds of many. Alex Gunter with Raymond James has advice for creating financial goals that will impact your life for years to come.

If a young professional hasn’t done any financial planning, where should they start?

It’s never too late to start, however the earlier, the better. My advice would be to start planning for retirement now. A key component is contributing to an employer sponsored plan. A lot of these match your contributions up to a specified percentage. If your employer does not have a retirement plan, contact your trusted financial professional and discuss what options are available in regards to retirement planning.

Do you have any tips for keeping organized and tracking financial goals?

One thing that I have always done personally and I utilize as a starting point for client conversations is a simple budget. This will keep you organized in regards to income and bills, and can illustrate areas holding you back from achieving goals. For instance, when looking at monthly expenditures, is there more coming out than going in? Are you noticing that you are “net-negative”? A budget plan can highlight weak areas and provide structure to correct bad habits. There are many budget outlines available, so trial and error may come into play here.

Long-term goals can be overwhelming. What are short-term goals to start with?

First, get your debt under control. If you are able to eliminate debt early, it will benefit you in the long-run. Circle back to the previous question of developing a budget—this ties right in. Work into your monthly expenditures a plan to pay off debt (i.e. student loans, credit cards, etc.).

Second, begin saving for retirement. Make it less intimidating by breaking it down into smaller chunks. I relate this approach to weight loss. In a previous life, I was a personal trainer and one thing I dealt with was weight loss. Overall, each client ran into the same problem—the big picture was overwhelming. I simply approached their goal in smaller increments.

For instance, if the goal was to lose 60 pounds in a year, I would break it down to a goal of losing 5 pounds per month, not so bad right? If that wasn’t enough, you could break it down even further to a weekly goal.

Saving for financial goals is no different. If you have a goal of saving $20,000 over three years, break it down to a monthly goal. $20,000 over 36 months is about $550 per month. Not so bad. If you need to break it down further, that’s $17 a day or one less lunch out from a restaurant. Simplifying goals can bring financial reassurance to a young individual who is starting their retirement planning journey or saving for a first large purchase.

How can an adviser assist in keeping financial goals?

Accountability. One imperative thing an adviser can do is keep the client accountable. Making sure that once developed, they are abiding by and sticking to the financial plan they agreed to. Life happens, but the more willing the client is to stay true to their financial plan, the better positioned they will be come retirement or time for that goal they have been working towards.

Gunter Financial Group of Raymond James
2 East Second St. Oil City, PA 16301 814.221.4213 |

This information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Alex Gunter and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. Matching contributions from your employer may be subject to a vesting schedule. Please consult with your financial advisor for more information.

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) January 2021 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

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