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How to Set Goals for Money Every Year

We’ve discussed how to take control of your future by setting goals that cover all seven areas of The Wheel of Life. Today, let’s talk details on one of those areas. Let’s talk about money.

This year, we’re bailing on our resolutions altogether and setting goals instead. We’ve discussed how to take control of your future by setting goals that are specific and measurable, have a time limit, are of personal interest to you, are written, and cover all seven areas of The Wheel of Life.

Today, let’s talk details on one of those areas. Let’s talk about money.

Depending on your situation, you’re either dreading or . . . well, dreading this conversation. That’s because money is often a source of stress and anxiety for many folks and a boring topic to others. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In fact, if 2018 is the year you get a handle on your finances, it might also be the year that money becomes a tool used for fun.

Our best advice for getting started? Measure your progress by the Baby Steps.

Baby Step 1: $1,000 starter emergency fund in the bank

Baby Step 2: Pay off all debts (excluding the mortgage)

Baby Step 3: Full emergency fund of three to six months of expenses

Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of your income in retirement

Baby Step 5: Invest for your kids’ college

Baby Step 6: Pay off your home early

Baby Step 7: Build wealth and give

Where you’re at

First things first, you’ve got to spot your location on the map. Maybe you know right away—your family has no money saved and lots of money owed. You’re pre-Baby Step 1. Others of you, though, might need to do a little digging.

If your spouse knows the answer, start there. If not, gather all of your financial information—checking, savings, retirement, debt—and get it in front of you. Plot your point of progress today and decide with your spouse how you’ll both be in the know moving forward.

Where you’re going

Now that you know what things look like, it’s easier to determine where you’re going. Go ahead and mentally draw a big circle, in fat red marker, around the Baby Step you’re aiming to reach. This is your new money goal. Own it. Get excited about it. Be prepared to hurt a little for it and gain a lot from it.

How you’ll get there

Ah, the how. The how is what moves lofty, floaty goals to real and tangible ones. The only money-how we know is sticking to a zero-based budget. It doesn’t matter what your goal actually is—the zero-based budget will get you there.

Related: How to Make a Zero-Based Budget

And if you’re worried that budgeting is an even more boring topic than general money, hear us out. A budget frees you up to spend without guilt or fear. You decide on paper, on purpose, before the month begins exactly where your money will go.

And that decision can be made with great care and effectives because you know where you’re at and you know where you’re going.

When you hope to arrive

Every goal needs a deadline. An end date. A preplanned time of celebration, if you will. Take a look at all the facts: where you’re at today, where you’re going and how you’ll get there. Be honest with yourself—and your spouse—to decide on a reasonable deadline.

Make sure that it’s challenging without being discouraging. That means you may need to feel the burn of getting out debt or saving up an emergency fund. And that’s okay! As you continue measuring your progress by the Baby Steps, momentum will build. We promise!

Keep your eyes focused on your new money goal. Remember to implement the how every single month. And keep us posted on how you’re doing along the way by commenting below.

Confirmed Death of US Dollar As China Launches Petro Yuan Trade War Dollar Collapse

Yuan-backed oil futures can shatter the US dollar dominance on the crude market, according to experts polled by RT. However, the greenback will not give up the top spot easily.

“The question number one is whether China will be able to make the oil market its demand market, and not the oil supply market traded in dollars, which it is now,” Vladimir Rozhankovsky, Global FX Investment analyst, told RT. China has recently overtaken the US as the world’s number one oil buyer.

The question number two is trade wars. If the world trade enters into a death spiral of reciprocal economic sanctions, keeping oil trade in dollars will be a matter of strategic importance, or a matter of survival for the US,” the analyst added.

As a result, Washington can deliberately undermine the image of the petro-yuan by attacking Chinese stock, which could result in the devaluation of the yuan, making Chinese oil futures less attractive, Rozhankovsky said.

However, the US has obvious disadvantages which the petro-yuan can capitalize on. First, the US dollar is still too strong, making domestic oil production very expensive. Second, the United States does not have transatlantic pipelines, and tankers are costly and highly risky, the analyst added.

“The trade war between the US and China has already begun. China has plans to promote the renminbi as a reserve currency and there is no better move than to purchase raw materials in its national currency. It can save money on the currency conversion and become less dependent on the US dollar,” Stanislav Werner, head of the analytical department of Dominion, told RT.

The analyst notes that the oil market is worth $14 trillion at the moment, and is bigger than the Chinese economy. “The first trading sessions were volatile, but this is a typical story for new financial instruments. The US has a serious reason to get nervous, because in many ways the hegemony of the US dollar came from oil trading in dollars,” he said.

4 Proven Ways Money Can Buy Your Happiness

You’ve heard it over and over: Money doesn’t buy happiness. Even if people didn’t keep telling you that, you might guess from the large number of extremely wealthy people with drug or alcohol addiction, depression, or even suicidal tendencies. You may even have experienced it yourself, when that last raise or bonus didn’t increase your own happiness. Neither did the extra money in your bank account or the new gadget or nice piece of clothing you splurged on.

But before you give up on money as a source of pleasure, you should know that there are some times when scientific research shows money truly can buy happiness. Money really can make you happy whenever one or more of the following is true:

1. You spend it on extra time.

A fascinating study of 4,400 Americans showed pretty definitively that people who value time over money are happier than those who don’t. So go ahead and hire that housekeeper or virtual assistant, and splurge for that grocery delivery service. It’s highly likely that you’ll be glad you did.

2. You spend it on a great experience.

We tend to assume it’s wiser to spend money on things–especially things that might appreciate in value–rather than fun. After all, if you spend $300 on a really nice smartphone today, you’ll still have that smartphone the next day and the day after. If you spend that $300 on really great seats to see your favorite band, the next day, you’ll have nothing.

In fact, the opposite is true, researchers at San Francisco State University discovered. Although people tend to believe that buying physical things will make them happier for longer than spending money on experiences because physical things last longer, in fact as we get used to owning that great new gadget or necklace, the happiness it causes fades into the background. (I experienced this myself when after years of wanting one, I bought an electric car. For the first couple of months, just seeing it sitting out in the yard caused a definite jolt of joy. I still love it, but now I’m used to it and that intense reaction has gone away.)

On the other hand, a great experience such as going to the concert will stay in your memory for a long time, and is likely to cause you enjoyment every time you think back on it, and every time you tell someone else about it. Experiences may not last as long as things, but the pleasure they cause lasts longer.

3. You spend it with someone you care about.

Human being are social by nature and there’s plenty of evidence that both a healthy relationship with a significant other and feeling part of a community can help you live longer. (Conversely, loneliness can kill you.)

Some social psychologists believe that one reason experiences seem to make us happier than things is that we often share them with a friend, partner, or family member. So if you do decide to get those great concert tickets, make sure to bring someone along whose company you enjoy. And if you really must buy that new phone, bring someone along on your shopping trip.

4. You spend it on someone else.

When researchers gave college students some extra cash and instructed one group to spend it on themselves and another group to spend it on others, the second group reported much more happiness than the first.

It makes sense if you think about our social orientation–giving money away or spending it on someone else makes us feel more connected to others. (As well as proud of our own generosity.) The thanks and warm fuzzies we get from the recipient of our largesse is likely to make us feel good as well. So go ahead and buy that nice present or make that charitable donation. You’ll be making yourself happier, as well as others.

Spend within your means.
While wealth doesn’t necessarily bring happiness, worry over excessive debt and having trouble paying your bills will definitely make you unhappy. If you spend more than you can afford, even on experiences or gifts, the stress you’ll feel as a result will most likely outweigh any pleasure the money gave you. So don’t go there. Make sure you have enough money to cover your bills, plus unexpected expenses, before you spend it on experiences, gifts, or even objects. Whether or not money makes you happy, make sure it doesn’t make you miserable.