The older I get, and well, frankly, the more bills I have to pay and the more responsible I have to be, the more interested I am in financial planning and goal setting. That’s why partnering with ATB Financial to blog about financial literacy topics is something I enjoy doing because while it does help Albertans, it’s also a huge benefit for myself (lol).
This month, I was asked to write about financial goals and resolutions. While I could have just done a blog with some tips of my own, and tips I glean from ATB resources, I thought it would be a lot more interesting, and a lot more meaningful, if I instead got some friends together so we could all talk about finances at something I call a ‘Financial Goals and Resolutions Party!’ Well, ours ended up being a Financial Goals and Resolutions Brunch, but you can really do it any time of day, over any type of food, lol.
Now according to my Google searches, this concept hasn’t really been done before! There are goal-setting parties (think vision boards and talking about where you want your career to be in five years), but really nothing specifically focused on finances because, well let’s face it finances can be a bit of a dry topic and for whatever reason, we’ve all been conditioned to not really talk about money. I’m not saying you need to bare all about the current state of your income and debt to your friends. However, hearing different perspectives and techniques on how to spend and save from your peers, is a really powerful and inspirational way to decide how you will change the way you spend and save your money!
After participating in a Financial Goals and Resolutions Party, I think this is something more people should try! That’s why I’m sharing tips on how to throw your own plus things my friends and I learned from our party.
Note: this blog post is sponsored by ATB Financial.
How (and Why) to Throw a Financial Goals & Resolutions Party
1. Invite a varied group of friends
For my Financial Goals & Resolutions Party, I invited friends who varied in age, jobs, and budgeting / savings experience. This meant everyone brought a slightly different perspective to the conversation. Some are currently investing, while others are not. None of them had heard of ATB Prosper, ATB Financial’s digital investment experience, which makes investing a far less daunting task, so I was really happy to share information about that! Other friends shared how they tackle saving and budgeting. While everyone might not have agreed on the others’ strategies or opinions, or maybe weren’t even in a position to execute on some tips being shared, the points still stuck with all of us during and after the meeting. Overall, this challenged the entire group to consider what more we could be doing with managing our money.
2. Facilitate the discussion with questions and resources
I put on my ‘facilitator’ hat for the party, and led the conversation with a few key questions, which you’re welcome to use for your party:
- What are some things you’re saving for, or focusing your finances on this year?
- What are ways you keep track of your finances and what you’re spending, if at all?
- Where are some areas you may try to spend less this year?
- How do you keep your financial management accountable?
I also shared financial planning resources from ATB Financial, including:
And as I mentioned in point one, we discussed how ATB Prosper, ATB’s digital investment experience, is a good fit to get you closer to achieving your financial goals, especially if you’re an investment newbie (like me!). The perks of ATB Prosper—it’s done digitally through an app or on its website and it recommends an investment portfolio for you automatically based on information you input like what you’re saving for, the timeframe for your goals, how much you currently are able to invest each month, and your risk tolerance.
You can either designate one person to lead and navigate the conversation, or everyone going to the party can be tasked with managing a component of it. But ultimately, everyone should be encouraged to participate in sharing their perspectives on saving and spending.
3. Make sure there is food or drinks—it is a party after all!
We talked about finances over brunch bennies, bagels and coffees. Originally, I had considered hosting the party at my house and providing charcuterie and snacks. It doesn’t really matter where you do it, but you can’t call it a party unless there is some food and drink involved right? Lol.
4. Make sure the group understands it’s a no-judgment zone
As some of my more investment-advanced friends were talking about how they manage their portfolios, I could sense that my new-to-investing friends (including me, honestly) were kind of feeling maybe a bit overwhelmed. It’s easy to then start worrying that you’re not doing enough with your budgeting, or that you’re falling behind others when it comes to having your finances in order.
I think it’s very important to make sure that the party attendees are there to share their budgeting perspectives and what works for them, but it should be shared in a non-judgmental way, and everyone should approach the party as an opportunity to learn and be inspired, not to feel bad about where you’re at.
In fact, I think you should celebrate that you are even taking that step towards greater financial security by agreeing to go to or host something like a Financial Goals & Resolutions Party and get these important conversations started!
5. Walk away from the party with one or two actions to try
You’re bound to get a lot of great ideas on how to save, cut spending, budget and manage your finances overall following a Financial Goals & Resolutions Party, but the key to actually implementing these ideas is to just choose one or two to try. Otherwise, you may not end up doing any! For instance, I’m going to try building a Spending Spreadsheet and use ATB’s Budget Worksheet this year! That’s something I picked up from the party (more on that below).
What did we learn at our Financial Goals & Resolutions Party?
There are many different ways to save or cut spending each month. Making adjustments will help get you closer to reaching your goals, whether it’s a big vacation, a new home, or a comfortable retirement.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the discussion with my friends:
- You could try and implement the 50/30/20 Rule, where you divvy up your monthly income in a way where you’re spending 50% on “needs” like house payments and groceries, 30% on “wants” like eating out, and 20% on paying off debt and building up your savings.
- You could create and maintain a Spending Spreadsheet or use this worksheet, which will help you keep track of all your expenses each month. Compare that data with the income you bring in and you’ll have a better sense of where you can save and how you can shift the money you spend each month.
- You can also use investment apps like ATB Prosper or take advantage of financial advisors like those from ATB Wealth, if you don’t know what to invest in or honestly how investing really works. ATB Prosper is easy to use, accessible from your phone via an app, and includes live support from said advisors. If you don’t know where or what to invest in, ATB Prosper does the legwork for you, creating a recommended investment portfolio based on your personal goals, your tolerance for risk, your timelines and your current financial situation (e.g. how much you’d be able to invest each month!). ATB Prosper also offers an annual Prosper Bonus and low management fees!
- Look at where you can cut down the total costs of your “needs.” While groceries are of course a necessity, maybe they don’t need to be as expensive, or take up as much of your monthly budget as they currently do. Knowing when to buy (for instance, buying meat when it’s got the discount sticker on it because it’s going to expire soon. Expiration isn’t an issue if you know you’ll eat it in the next day or two!) or how to buy (don’t grocery shop when you’re hungry) can make a difference on your bottom line.
- Reconsider or rejig your ‘wants.’ You might do date night every Friday, but maybe you change that to every other Friday, or one Friday a month. Or—maybe it’s not a date night out, it’s a date night in. There’s something to be said about still enjoying your life and not pinching pennies, but there’s likely room to scale back a bit on how much you’re spending on things like entertainment, eating out or shopping.
- Understand that what works for one person might not work for another, because everyone’s financial situation is different. It’s all about balance. Budgeting is about knowing where you spend your money, reminding yourself to spend within your means, and starting to save even if just a little bit, each month to help get you closer to achieving your short, mid and long-term goals. That’s why ATB Prosper is a great investing option because the minimum amount they ask you to contribute to the account each month is $25 and you can get started with as little as $100.
I understand there are likely people who might not be able to put anything into savings each month, or maybe feel really limited in the changes they can make with their spending due to income limitations or whatever their specific situation is. That can be a reality for some Albertans. Maybe the actions in this blog post are really quite a tall order in that case. We discussed this and think that if there’s even one change you can make, even if it’s small at first, that’s positive progress.
If you end up throwing a Financial Goals & Resolutions Party, post about it on social media!
Let’s make this a thing?! Use the hashtag #FinancialGoalsParty.
It’s never been used before (well, except for my post).
My friends and I walked away from our Financial Goals Party feeling really motivated. Some of us were reassured we were on the right path. Others were inspired to change how we’re currently spending and saving. Honestly, at one point I felt pretty crappy about where I was at with my savings and investing, but then I reminded myself that the fact that I’m even discussing it, and willing to try new approaches (like ATB Prosper and the Spending Spreadsheet), is a great step.
Please let me know if there are any other tips for cutting spending or approaching savings that my friends and I didn’t discuss!
Disclaimer: I am working with ATB in a paid partnership to help highlight its ATB Prosper investment experience and help educate Albertans on financial literacy. This has no impact on opinions stated in this post. I have an ATB Prosper account and am always looking for ways to build up my financial security.