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There are plenty of personal finance tools available online. When beginning a personal finance journey, you might start with finance-tailored tools, thinking that if they have to do with money and a budget, they will get you on the right track. I suggest starting even simpler.
If a budget is the key to maintaining personal finances, then setting goals is the keyhole. Having a budget will not get you far if you do not have a reason to stick to it!
I began using 43Things.com quite a while before I started caring about my budget. It is a website for you to list things you want to do /places you want to see/goals you want to accomplish in your lifetime.
One item on my list, “Be debt-free by the time I’m 30” was added there several years ago. At that time, I had little discipline for tracking my expenses and keeping a budget. Yet, I still had this financial/personal goal.
Now, like all goals, they are pretty useless if we forget about them. 43Things has a very useful “reminder” feature. You can have it email you periodically to remind you of a certain goal. Once a week, I receive an email reminding me that I want to be debt-free by the time I’m 30. The first couple times I received the reminder, I immediately deleted it. I was afraid such a goal would not be possible and was embarrassed to be reminded I was a failure.
However, slowly I began sticking to my budget, living more minimally, tracking my expenses, and becoming aware of my money in general. My debt began dwindling away, all the while I still received my weekly reminder of my long-term goal. Now, when I open these emails, I think back to the time I thought this was impossible! It is great to see how far I have come; To see that I have been continuously working on a goal and making progress.
Another excellent goal-oriented tool that I have been using for a while now is Joe’s Goals (shown in the image above). This is a super simple goal tracker!
Originally, I used it to motivate me to run on a schedule. It follows the Seinfeld method of tracking goals. All you need is a check mark a day. This is great for schedule goals like “eat at home 3 times a week”, “run every other day”, “read for an hour a day”, “call mom”, etc.
I am currently using it to track my “no spend” days. You can use it to track multiple items as well, which is a great way to incorporate personal finance into your every day tasks.
Another great reminder tool is Remember The Milk. You can include “Pay Credit Card Bill” on your to-do list right next to “Send Kate A Birthday Card”. Including your financial tasks in with the rest of your everyday tasks makes it easier to incorporate and turn into a habit.
You can set up Remember The Milk to email and/or text task reminders. This is incredibly useful as a reminder to pay bills and check your budget once a week.
You do not need special tools to track your personal finance goals. Incorporating your money goals with the rest of your life goals, makes them easier to remember and feels like personal finances really is important to your life, rather than a separate entity that requires special attention.
What do you use to track your finance and non-finance goals?