1. Set Financial Goals

Do you have Dreams… or Goals? 
We all have dreams about what might happen in our lives. You might dream of graduating college with little or no debt, or dream of a luxurious vacation, or of buying a house or even having a nice car or great wardrobe. But do you have a plan to support your dream? If not, your dreams may start to conflict with one another, and you may not realize any of them in the long run. The way to turn your dreams to goals is to have a plan!

Identify Goals

Clearly identifying (and writing down) your goals is the first step to attaining them. This step is super important! You will likely have multiple goals for each of your multiple roles in life:

The role in your life:The goal to match:
Studenteducational goals
Family Memberfamily goals
Employeework goals
Friendsocial and recreational goals
Individualhealth and financial fitness goals
Identify Effective Goals using the DAPPS method

Effective goals have specific deadlines: "My dream is to become a Drug and Alcohol Counselor in three years."

Effective goals are realistic: "My dream is to become a Drug and Alcohol Counselor in three years and finish school with under $10,000 in debt."

Your goals, not someone else's: "My dream is to become a Drug and Alcohol Counselor in three years and finish school with under $10,000 in debt." 

Effective goals focus on what you do want rather than on what you don't want: "My dream is to become a Drug and Alcohol Counselor in three years and finish school with under $10,000. I will borrow $825/term or less for tuition, fees, books, and supplies."

Effective goals state outcomes in specific, measurable terms: "My dream is to become a Drug and Alcohol Counselor in three years and finish school with under $10,000 of debt. I will borrow $825 per term or less for tuition, fees, books, and supplies. I will complete my remaining 72 credits by taking two courses each term."

Prioritize Goals

Once you have a long list of goals, you'll need to decide if they are: 

Now you can rank the ones that are the most important to you. It's good to keep a couple in each category, so you can maintain your focus. As you accomplish goals in each category, you can move on to the next short-mid-long-term goal on your list!

Do your goals support or compete with each other?

While in college, your goals are probably related to your education- especially your short and mid- term goals. It's important to remember though: your short and mid-term goals should support your long-term goals. If your goals seem to be competing with each other, you need to go back and prioritize again. If your long-term goal is to buy a house, you might consider if you really want that car? If your mid-term goal is to graduate from college in 3 years, but you can't afford to cut back on work or take enough classes with your current budget, you might need to make getting a campus job and reducing housing costs your top short-term priorities.

Create an Action Plan

Generally, an action plan has four parts:

  1. Your clearly identified goal 
  2. The date the goal will be achieved
  3. The resources and tasks required to achieve the goal 
  4. The activities and timelines (between now and your goal date) that help you check your progress

In Steps 1 through 3 you clearly identified your goal, set a date when it should be achieved, and identified the resources that you would need. Now all you have to do is to identify your plan to evaluate your progress! 

 Each term you need to ask yourself:

  • Am I successfully completing my courses?
  • Are the classes I'm taking going toward my high school diploma?
  • Are the classes I am taking going toward my degree or towards the perquisites for a specific program?

If you find that you answer no to any of these questions, your action plan gets more complicated. If you are not completing your courses successfully, what actions do you need to take to improve your success in college? Step 4  is all about evaluating your progress and taking action to keep yourself on track.