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3 Signs You've Outgrown Your Money Goals

Setting realistic, achievable financial goals is one way to make sure you’re getting the most out of every dollar. Some goals – like paying off your mortgage early – may be long-term goals, while something like trying to save $500 might be achievable in the short term. Reviewing your financial plan periodically can keep you on the right track. And you’ll see whether the milestones you want to reach make sense. Check out a few signs that might indicate that it’s time to set some new money goals.

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1. Your Savings Account Is Bloated

Saving money is essential for maintaining sound financial health, but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. If you set a goal of saving up six months’ worth of income in an emergency fund, for example, and you’ve exceeded your target, there might be a better way to put your money to work.

If you’re putting $300 into a savings account each month and you’re not earning much interest, you might be better off putting your savings elsewhere. An IRA or a certificate of deposit might be a better place to park your emergency fund.

2. Your Spending Keeps Creeping Up

3 Signs You've Outgrown Your Money Goals

Paying down debt is another big financial goal to tackle and there’s nothing sweeter than sending in a final credit card payment. Now that you’re no longer spending hundreds of dollars on monthly credit card bills, you might have plenty of wiggle room in your budget. So how are you going to use your extra cash?

You might be tempted to treat that excess money as spending money. Instead of spending $100 each month to eat out, you start spending $300 at restaurants. Before you paid off your debt, you avoided malls like the plague. But now you find yourself drawn to the latest sales.

When your spending is on the rise and it’s keeping you from saving, that’s a sign that you might need a new financial goal to work towards. Without some kind of motivation, it’s easy to end up spending more of your hard-earned dollars and derailing your finances.

3. You Don’t Feel Challenged

Setting goals can give you something to look forward to and crossing one off your list can be a huge mental and emotional rush. If you’re cruising along and you’re easily achieving your goals, that could be an indication that you haven’t set the bar high enough.

For example, saving 10% of your income in your 401(k) is great but you may be shortchanging yourself if you could really afford to save 15% or 20%. If you wanted to knock $1,000 off your student loans in a year and you paid off that amount in three months, you might need to consider upping your goal to paying off $5,000 or even $10,000 per year.

Don’t be afraid to push the envelope. Pairing goals that are “softballs” with ones that are harder to meet can encourage you to stay on top of your finances.

Final Word

3 Signs You've Outgrown Your Money Goals

It doesn’t matter how big or small your paycheck is. What matters is what you decide to do with it. If you find that your financial priorities have changed over time, you might need to map out some new goals to replace the ones that are no longer a good fit for you.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/PeopleImages, ©iStock.com/Geber86, ©iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She's worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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