When Short-Term Goals Become Long-Term Financial Habits

I used to have a significant number of short-term goals (way more than what I recently listed here). For example, I used to have as my short-term goals:

  • Stay one-EMI ahead on my car loan i.e. save for next month’s EMI from this month’s salary.

  • Save for all of my annual expenses in the form of an Annual Expenses EMI (Note: Right now, I don’t include this component as part of my household expenses. Maybe it’s time I should. Definitely food for thought.)

  • Payback any expenses charged on my credit card within a week of incurring the expense. (I followed this diligently even during my recent trip to the US.)

  • Keep a small emergency fund in my wallet and in my car at all times. (I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve fueled at a pump only to find that there’s no cash in my wallet. I don’t carry my credit card either. These mini-emergency funds have been a lifesaver.)

I used to look-up each of these goals several times over the course of a month. I had to constantly remind myself. But gradually, as the months progressed, these short-term goals became ingrained long-term financial habits. Now, I do each of these subconsciously.

For example, each month as soon as my salary is credited, I immediately divert the relevant amounts into expense items titled next-month household expenses, annual expenses EMI, credit-card repayments, etc. In other words, these once-upon-a-time short-term goals are now permanent line items in my personal finances tracker (specifically in the sheet representing my “Single Source of Financial Truth”). I can’t miss these, even accidentally, since they are right up there in my tracker.

And what does it take to get here: discipline and a willingness to change.

How about you? Have you been through a similar phase with your personal finances?

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