13 Money Goals You Can Still Reach by 2017


We've passed the halfway point of 2016, and maybe you're down on yourself because you haven't achieved some of your annual financial goals. Life can sometimes derail our money-saving plans — and that can make you feel like a failure. But the year isn't over yet. So chin up, buttercup! It's never too late to give your money a makeover, like with these 13 money goals that are still attainable by 2017.

1. Increase Your Emergency Fund

Whether you want to increase your fund by $500 or $1,000, there's still time to build your bank account.

Ideally, you should have about three to six months' of income in reserves. If you're not in a position to save this much, aim for an emergency fund sufficient to help you get through most unexpected expenses, like a home or car repair. You'll have to make a few sacrifices, such as spending less on entertainment or shopping less, but with five months left in the year, you can hit this goal by saving $100 to $200 a month.

2. Start Planning for Retirement

Your retirement account isn't going to grow itself. The older we get, the more important it is to plan for the future. If you haven't started saving for retirement yet, now's the time to get serious. Talk to your employer about enrolling in the company's 401K plan. If this isn't an option, open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) through your bank or with the help of a financial adviser.

3. Increase Retirement Contributions

Then again, maybe you're already saving for retirement, but feel now's the time to increase your contribution. Whether you're currently contributing 2% or 5% of your income to a retirement account, set a goal of increasing your contribution by at least 1% before the end of the year.

4. Reduce Expenses

It's easier to attain money goals when you reduce expenses and free up cash. For the next four to five months, eliminate or reduce at least one expense a month. This can include downgrading your cable package or getting rid of cable altogether (it's a common trend these days), using coupons to lower your grocery bill, or riding your bike or carpooling to work a few days a week to save on transportation costs. The savings add up quickly, and before you know it you'll have a bigger bank account.

5. Create a Second Income Stream

Our income isn't always enough to meet our money goals. Rather than complain about your situation, think creatively about ways to increase your income. Working a side hustle a few days a week can generate money to build your savings account, pay off debt, or start saving for retirement.

If you're an expert in your field, offer consulting on the side. Or if you have excellent writing skills, look into freelance writing opportunities and share your knowledge. Don't think your second income stream has to be glamorous, either. If you don't mind odd jobs or getting your hands dirty, you can make extra money around the neighborhood cleaning houses, doing handyman work, or cutting grass.

6. Give Up a Costly Habit

Bad habits are expensive.

Before the end of the year, make a concerted effort to eliminate at least one bad habit. This includes things like drinking too much alcohol and smoking, as well as habits that aren't as dangerous to your health but detrimental to your finances. Do you have a routine of stopping for coffee and breakfast every morning on the way to work? If you can eliminate this $5 daily purchase from your budget, you'll save about $25 a week, or $100 a month.

7. Simplify Your Life

Less can be more. If you're tired of clutter or feel the stuff you own takes too much of your time and energy, set a goal to simplify and unload a few possessions. Selling off items can put extra cash in your pocket, plus you can save money on storage fees and free up space in your house, garage, attic, or basement.

8. Give to Charity

It's not too late to make a charitable donation and give back. While you're simplifying and decluttering your life, consider donating a few items to your favorite organization. You'll not only help someone in need, you can write off charitable donations on your tax return and lower your tax bill.

9. Purchase Life Insurance

Life insurance is necessary for everyone, but especially for people with children and other dependents who rely on their income. A policy can cover the cost of a funeral and burial, plus pay off any expenses you leave behind, such as a mortgage and credit cards.

There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding the amount of coverage to purchase, but some money experts recommend a policy that's eight to 10 times your income. If you already have a policy, review your coverage to make sure it's adequate for your needs. If you don't have a policy, it's time to get one.

10. Budget Your Money

If you overspend every month and can't get ahead, the problem could be poor budgeting. The truth is, attaining many of your money goals by 2017 will require an airtight budget. You have to know what's coming in and what's going out before you can come up with a plan for your personal finances. Now's the time to put pen to paper and review your income and expenses to determine a reasonable amount to spend in various spending categories, such as food, transportation, entertainment, shopping, etc.

11. Say No to Credit Card Debt

Credit cards are simple and convenient, but they're also a source of pain and suffering if you let balances grow out of control. Before the end of the year, come up with a plan to pay off or pay down at least one credit card. Don't stop until you're debt free. (See also: How to Get Rid of Interest on Your Credit Card Debt)

You can achieve this goal by paying more than your minimums every month. Or negotiate a lower interest rate with your creditors so that more of monthly payments go toward reducing the principal. Since the amounts we owe make up 30% of our credit scores, paying off credit cards also increases your credit score.

12. Automate Your Finances

Paying bills on time also contributes to a higher credit score. Forgetting a due date and paying late can result in late fees, and when bills arrive 30 or more days past due, your credit score suffers. To avoid these situations, automate your finances. Set up automatic bill payments between your bank and creditors and you'll never miss another due date.

13. Check Your Credit Report

Everyone should check their credit reports at least once a year and dispute erroneous information. If it's been more than 12 months since you last reviewed your reports, visit AnnualCreditReport.com today and get a free copy of your reports from each of the three bureaus. Credit report mistakes and fraudulent activity can drive down your FICO score and trigger credit rejections and higher interest rates on loans and credit cards — and when you're charged higher interest rates, you pay more for credit.

What are some of your money goals that you'd like to reach by the end of the year? How do you plan to meet those goals? Let's discuss in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

I do hope I get to achieve these goals by 2017. It looks like a smart plan to do these things.