Managing Debt For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon

The best way to avoid financial problems is to establish financial goals and a household budget to help achieve them. Your financial goals should be specific, realistic, time based, and flexible. As you put together your financial plan, place each goal into one of three categories:

[Credit: ©]
Credit: ©
  • Short-term goals: These are goals that you believe you can accomplish within the next six months to one year, such as putting a certain amount of money in your savings, paying off a loan, outfitting your kids for the start of school, or having enough money to join a health club.

  • Medium-term goals: These are goals that you feel you can achieve within the next five years, such as having enough money for a down payment on a home, paying off a car loan, or putting a certain amount of money in your retirement account.

  • Long-term goals: These are goals that you project will take you longer than five years to achieve. They may include sending your kids to college, having enough money to retire, taking your dream vacation, and so on.

Be realistic about your goals and about how long it will take you to achieve each one. If you are not, you’ll be setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment.

Unless you are lucky enough to come into a financial windfall, you probably can’t afford to work toward all your goals at the same time. If you try to do so, you may spread yourself so thin financially that you don’t achieve any of them. Instead, prioritize your goals so you know which goals to focus on first.

Most likely you will begin working toward short-term goals first because they are probably the most pressing, but you may be able to work on some of your medium- and long-term goals at the same time. For example, maybe you want to pay off your car loan over the next six months, and you also want to start stashing money away for a down payment on a home with the goal of having the money you need in two years.

After you decide which goals to work toward first, decide how you’ll achieve each goal and set a realistic time frame for doing what you’ve set out to do. For example, you may decide to get a second job and put all the money you earn from it toward a certain goal. You may decide to finance another goal through a combination of cash and credit. Revise your budget as necessary.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

John Ventura: John is a best-selling author and a nationally boardcertified bankruptcy attorney. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law School and the director of the Texas Consumer Complaint Center at the Law School.
As a young boy, John dreamed of becoming a Catholic priest so he could help everyday people, and he spent his high school years in a Catholic seminary. After graduating, however, John decided to achieve his dream by combining journalism with the law. Therefore, he earned an undergraduate degree in journalism and a law degree from the University of Houston Law School. Later, he and a partner established a law firm in Texas, building it into one of the most successful consumer bankruptcy firms in the state. He subsequently began a successful consumer law firm in South Texas.
Today, as Director of the Texas Consumer Complaint Center, he supervises law students as they help consumers with their legal problems. He is also a regular speaker at law conferences around the country and serves on the Bankruptcy Council for the Texas Bar Association.
John is the author of 13 books on consumer and small business legal matters, including Law For Dummies, 2nd edition; The Everyday Law Kit For Dummies; Divorce For Dummies, 2nd edition; and Good Advice for a Bad Economy (Berkeley Books). John has been interviewed about consumer money matters by numerous national media including CNN, NBC, NPR, Bloomberg Television & Radio, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsweek, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Money, Inc. Martha Stewart’s Living, Bottomline, Entrepreneur,,, and In addition, his comments and advice have appeared in major newspapers around the country, and he has been a frequent guest on local radio programs.

Mary Reed: Mary Reed is a personal finance writer who has coauthored or ghostwritten numerous books on topics related to consumer money matters and legal rights. The books she has coauthored with John Ventura include The Everyday Law Kit for Dummies, Divorce For Dummies, and Good Advice for a Bad Economy (Berkeley Books). Mary has also written for the magazines Good Housekeeping, Home Office Computing, and Small Business Computing, and she has ghostwritten numerous articles that have appeared in national and local publications.
Mary is also the owner of Mary Reed Public Relations (MR•PR), an Austin, Texas-based firm that provides public relations services to a wide variety of clients, including authors, publishers, attorneys, financial planners, healthcare professionals, retailers, hotels, restaurants, and nonprofits.
Prior to starting her public relations business and writing career 20 years ago, she was vice president of marketing for a national market research firm, marketing director for a women’s healthcare organization, and public relations manager for Texas Monthly, a national award-winning magazine. She received her MBA from Boston University and her BA from Trinity University in Washington, DC.
In her free time, Mary serves on the board of a community development corporation in her neighborhood. She also enjoys long morning bike rides, road trips with her husband, gardening, working her way through the stack of books by her bed, taking care of her six cats, and spending time with her family and many friends.

This article can be found in the category: