Personal Finance Blog for Retirement and Investment Advice

Slacker’s Guide to Goal Setting

Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn’t spend half our time wishing.”
– Alexander Woollcott

It’s still early in the year and time to set our bright and shiny new goals for the next twelve months, often with the grand title of “New Year’s Resolutions.”

Give me a break!

Aren’t we busy and stressed enough just trying to keep up with where and what we are without the added effort of trying to make our lives better? Why waste our time going after goals when we can put our feet up and watch new episodes of The Good Wife?

Besides, if we set goals, our lives might actually change – and who likes change? We’re all comfy cozy with our current problems and headaches. Why rock the boat?

However, you might be surrounded by obnoxiously chipper goal setters and goal getters harassing you to join them. Ugh!

To keep them off your back so you can join that happy 40% of people who set New Year’s Resolutions and fail within the first month, I’ve come up with some sure-fire tips:

The Slacker’s Guide to Goal Setting

Follow these pointers and you’ll never, ever have to worry about goals mucking up your perfect life!

Keep ‘em vague.

The foggier your goals, the better. Take “I want the lifestyle of my dreams” as a goal. Excellent! Even if you had an army of brilliant minions, no one would ever know what the heck that goal means or how to fulfill it for you.

But if you make it simple and specific (like, “I want to work 4 days per week and make enough money to cover my current expenses”), your mind might actually get distracted from its normal stress and worry to come up with a positive plan to make that happen!

Make sure they aren’t quantifiable.

For example, “I’d like to lose some weight” is a perfect slacker’s goal! You can, sometime within the next year or two, lose just ½ pound and – Voila! – you’re totally off the hook. (Even better, nothing in that goal says you can’t gain it right back!)

On the flip side, if your goal is measurable (“I’ll lose ten pounds by July 1, 2015 and maintain that weight”), yikes! You’ll be very clear at all times if you’re getting closer to your goal or not. You might feel like you actually have to pay attention to the goal and take some action! Or if you’re getting close to it, you might actually feel proud of yourself and good about your accomplishment – which leads to the slippery slope of setting and attaining more goals!

Keep your goals in future tense. Do not set specific timelines.

You can’t fail to fail with this one! Think about “I will find the love of my life” or “I will write a novel.” Absolutely no pressure to actually do something, right? It has nothing to do with today. It’s later, and how can anyone ever say you’ve failed? If some busybody questions you, cut them off at the pass with “Someday, I will do it and someday hasn’t gotten here yet, has it?”

On the other hand, if you set specific deadlines or put your goal in the present tense, you’re likely to feel that uncomfortable urge to take action toward it. Your subconscious may even start generating great ideas to help you attain the goal knowing that you’ve set a deadline for it to meet.

Set goals that you don’t really care about.

Here’s an easy rule of thumb: If your goal is less important to you than your favorite TV show, it’s a perfect slacker’s goal! Not sure how to find a goal you don’t care about? Just ask your spouse or parents or boss what they think your goals should be.

The sad truth is that, the more important your goals are to you, the more likely you are to achieve them. Passion about a goal just gets us all energized and eager to make something happen. We no longer feel satisfied sticking with our old routines. We think out of the box and actually enjoy doing what it takes. Bummer!

Set goals that are impossible.

Some people claim that nothing is impossible but, of course, that’s simply not true. I mean, honestly, if you’re only 5’7″, could you ever hope to have a successful career playing in the NBA? (Well, okay, so Spud Webb did it. But still…) All you need to do is set a goal that you believe is impossible. If you’re one of those optimistic “possibility” types, just keep ratcheting up your goal until even Tony Robbins would cry “Uncle!”

A huge mistake newbie slackers make is to take a big, impossible goal and divide it into smaller, believable goals. Folks, those small goals become dangerous “gateway” goals. You’ll find yourself achieving them then moving to the next and the next until – oh no! – your impossible goal is within your reach!

Set ‘em and forget ‘em.

Write up your vague, impossible, uninspiring goals on a 3 X 5 card and throw them in a pile somewhere. Or better yet, don’t write them down at all! Don’t give those goals another thought, and certainly do not do anything about them.

Because if you read them aloud and visualize them each morning and each evening, and if you take even the tiniest steps forward on them, your mind may actually believe you really want these goals. You’ll start getting brilliant and unique ideas about how to attain your goals. Your body will feel energized. You might even find yourself missing Dancing With the Stars to pursue them!

Yes, of course, I’m just kidding. But if you take another look at this article, you’ll find many of the secrets that make the difference between goals that work and those that die on the vine! As Lily Tomlin warned us:

When I was growing up I always wanted to be someone. Now I realize I should have been more specific.”

Expert Interview: Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Did you know there is scientific evidence that gratitude can lower your blood pressure, improve your digestion, reduce your stress and boost your immune system?

And it can have an amazing impact on how you respond to events, people and situations… and how they in turn respond to you.

The wonderful thing is that it can be cultivated and nurtured.  Result:  You bring out the very best in yourself and your life and the best in those whom you love, work and play with.

Buy Catherine Price's book, Gratitude: A NovelIn my 30-minute interview with best-selling author Catherine Price, you’ll discover some practical tips for cultivating an attitude of gratitude – and multiplying your blessings.

Catherine is the author of Gratitude: A Journal (available here on our Amazon store).  It’s a perennial best-seller that gives you a great way to keep a daily record of life’s little blessings, and it’s filled with a year’s worth of insights, prompts and inspiring quotes. [Read more…]

How to Raise Financially Savvy Kids, Teens and Grandkids

Welcome to part three of our Your Money Revolution video training series.

I hope you enjoyed the first two installments on how to spend less without feeling deprived, and “the silent enemy” in your retirement account that could be costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars in stealth fees.

And thank you for all your notes and emails on how much you enjoyed them!

Today, we’re going to talk about one of the biggest money drains on the planet… our children.

Do your kids think money grows on trees? Are you tired of saying “no” to the constant requests for the latest “must have” electronics, gadgets, sneakers, and more? I’ve been hearing for years from readers who say this is a big challenge they face.

If you can relate, you’re going to love this 5-minute video clip that reveals two of eight key money lessons we cover in the Your Money Revolution course that will empower your kids (and grandkids) to be financially responsible for life. [Read more…]

The Secret to Living a Richer Lifestyle while Spending Less [Video]

We had such a great response to the video clip from my new Your Money Revolution financial transformation program I posted a few days ago that I just couldn’t resist giving you another one.

The first clip showed you how the fees charged even by supposedly low-cost mutual funds and ETF’s can devour up to 37% of your account value – and what to look out for.

Today’s video clip will give you an idea of the wide range of strategies and tools we provide you in the Your Money Revolution coaching program for taking back control of your money and finances.

This video clip is less than 5 minutes and shows you one of a dozen ways we cover for spending less – without feeling deprived. In fact, you’ll experience a much deeper level of happiness and contentment. [Read more…]

Your Money Revolution Video Clip: How Mutual Fund Fees are Devouring Your Savings

For the past year, I’ve been working full-time on creating a comprehensive go-at-your-own-pace coaching program designed to eliminate your biggest money worries – and let you take back control of your financial destiny.

I call it “Your Money Revolution,” and initial response to the program has been terrific.

Today I’m excited to share a 5-minute excerpt from this new program with my loyal subscribers.

I want you to be able to see for yourself how truly life changing the information, tools and strategies that I’ve packed into this program can be.

This 5-minute video excerpt deals with how the fees you’re paying in the mutual funds or ETF’s you own in a retirement or investment account may be draining far more of your account value than you realize. [Read more…]

End Your Biggest Money Worries in 90 Days

The top-secret project I’ve been working on for a year is now live!

As I mentioned in my previous emails, it has the potential to completely transform your finances and end your biggest money worries in short order. It’s a culmination of ten years of research… and the result of listening to the concerns of more than 92,000 subscribers to this ezine.

I can honestly say that watching this video I’ve put together for you could end up being the single most important thing you do for your finances – bar none. And as one of my loyal subscribers and supporters, I wanted you to know about it first.

Click here to watch it now.

Here’s a few of the things you’ll discover in this video presentation: [Read more…]

Why Your Retirement Account is Missing $186,000

An eye-opening Report released last month by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College reveals that the fees charged by mutual funds and 401(k) and IRA plans will slash the value of the typical person’s account by almost 37%!

That means if your account should have been worth $500,000, you end up with only $314,000 – all because of stealth fees that are draining your hard-earned savings! That’s $186,000(!) of your money that will end up in other people’s pockets, not yours.

These money-sucking fees often apply even to funds that track stock market indexes such as the S&P 500… as well as to the “Target Date” Funds that most employers now automatically put employees’ 401(k) money into.

Listen to John Bogle, the founder and former CEO of Vanguard, who many consider to be the father of the indexed mutual fund, quoted in MarketWatch, in February 2014:

Question: “If you pay a hefty fee to an active manager, what happens to your potential return?” [Read more…]

Fed says most Americans “extraordinarily vulnerable” to financial setbacks

A comment last week by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen (read Is Pamela Yellen Related to Janet Yellen?) sent my inquiring mind down an investigative rabbit hole.Janet Yellen and Pamela Yellen

Janet stated that the Great Recession showed that a large number of American families are “extraordinarily vulnerable” to financial setbacks because they have few financial assets to fall back on when the you-know-what hits the fan.

She cited a new study showing that an unexpected expense of just $400 would force the majority of American families to borrow money or to have to sell something to cover it.

Just $400! Yikes! What is that? A minor car or appliance repair or a small medical or dental expense?

That stat came from a survey released by the Federal Reserve this summer that was so ignored by the media that it even escaped my notice.

When I finally tracked down that Federal Reserve survey (Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2013), I could see why the media wanted to keep it under wraps.

Here are a few startling revelations from this Report…

[Read more…]

Do you feel lucky?

For two years before the dot-com stock market bubble crashed, my husband Larry and I studied “stock charting” with one of the country’s top technical analysts. It’s one of the 450+ financial strategies and vehicles I’ve investigated over the last 25 years.

Stock charting looks at patterns in the charts of stocks, indexes and various market indicators to determine the best times to buy or sell, based on the knowledge that history repeats itself. (Frankly, I don’t have the patience for that kind of analysis and found it excruciatingly boring.)

History repeats itself in the stock marketWe owned a lot of tech stocks, and we’d check our retirement account balance every day because it was growing so fast. Some weeks we’d see such an enormous jump that we’d high-five each other shouting, “We’re rich! We’re rich!”

Yup, back then we were part of the “dumb money” – following the crowd like lemmings blindly following each other off a cliff. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself…

We were paying this analyst a good chunk of change for his coaching. Just when the dot-com bubble was peaking (as we now know with 20/20 hindsight), the analyst sent us this urgent one-sentence message: [Read more…]