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When it comes to setting and reaching money goals, you have to have what people in the personal finance world call a “why” — AKA, the reason you’re bothering to save or invest. While there are many different goals you can reach through investing (saving for retirement, buying a home, taking an extended period off work in the future), saving money just for the sake of it isn’t very motivating. You have to have a reason to save — otherwise, you’re treating money as a resource to hoard, rather than a tool to give you the life you want.
But once you have your “why,” how you get there is totally up to you. There are dozens of different ways to motivate yourself to reach your money goals. So, we’ve put together this quiz to help you determine what strategy will work best for you.
This quiz is not about setting a number, or telling you what your money goals should be — that depends completely on your own desires and circumstances! It’s simply about finding ways to motivate yourself to save towards a long-term money goal, especially when the gratification of reaching it is super out of reach. By examining your own habits and preferences, you’ll be able to work towards your money goals in a way that works for you, not against you. Let’s get started!
1. Are you more digital or analog?
(A) Extremely analog — I have a regular paper journal and a bullet journal that I write in every day.
(B) Mildly analog — I put important reminders on sticky notes but don’t keep a meticulous schedule.
(C) Mildly digital — I put plans and obligations in my phone calendar.
(D) Extremely digital — I am obsessed with Google Calendar and use it for everything from scheduling my workouts to setting personal reminders.
(E) Both — I have some reminders on my phone, some written down, and somehow I manage to figure it all out.
2. Do you like video games?
(A) Lol, no.
(B) I like playing MarioKart and Animal Crossing, and other games that are more social than involved.
(C) Yes! They are my absolute favorite way to spend my downtime, and I’ve even cried when I’ve gotten to the end of a really great game before.
(D) I’m very hot and cold with them — I’ll get way into a game, and then not pick up my player for a year.
(E) Not really — I’ve tried playing some but lose interest very quickly.
3. Do you enjoy looking at data, either in your work or personal life?
(A) I definitely appreciate visualizing trends, but I’m not a big numbers person.
(B) I have to talk through data with other people in order to get a clear understanding of what I’m looking at.
(C) Sure, I always enjoy figuring out how to beat my own personal record.
(D) Yes, I am obsessed with analyzing every part of my life so I can optimize it.
(E) Yes, mainly because I like setting milestones and then getting to celebrate them.
4. Are you an organized person?
(A) Yes — I have clutter, but there’s definitely a rhyme and reason to it.
(B) Not really, but it doesn’t bother me.
(C) Not inherently, but it bothers me — I do best when I have systems that help me stay organized without thinking about it.
(D) Yes — I would say I’m extremely organized, both digitally and physically.
(E) Yes — but mostly so I have a reason to buy myself nice-looking organizational tools.
5. Are you more of a planner, or more spontaneous?
(A) I like to plan ahead just enough so that there’s room for spontaneity.
(B) I don’t typically plan ahead very much, but I really like it when others around me make plans.
(C) I’d definitely consider myself more spontaneous.
(D) I’m a very meticulous planner.
(E) I like making plans so that I have things to look forward to.
6. Can you motivate yourself, or do you depend on others to motivate you?
(A) I’m largely self-motivated, but that sometimes means holding myself accountable publicly, like sharing my progress towards a goal on Instagram.
(B) I definitely depend on other people to keep me motivated.
(C) I wouldn’t say I’m more or less motivated by myself or others — if I want to do something, I just do it.
(D) I’m extremely good at motivating myself to work towards a goal, even if no one else knows about it.
(E) I can be motivated as long as I know I’ll get some sort of reward out of it (but the reward can be from myself).
7. Do you enjoy keeping New Year’s Resolutions?
(A) Yes — I’ve had some luck with keeping them in the past, especially if I find a way to make them fun!
(B) Not really, unless it’s more of a social activity than anything.
(C) No — I like going after goals but don’t really care about doing something during a specific calendar year.
(D) Yes — I like the structure of a calendar year for setting and reaching goals, even if the timeline is arbitrary.
(E) Yes — I set major resolutions and plan a major event or purchase for myself once I reach my goal.
8. How detailed is your budget?
(A) I know exactly how much I have “leftover” to spend each pay period, but I don’t break my spending down hyper-specific categories.
(B) Relatively detailed, but I only stick to it if I have regular check-ins with my partner/roommate.
(C) Pretty detailed, but I rely on an app to help me stay on budget so I don’t have to spend that much time thinking about it.
(D) Extremely detailed — I have quick check-ins with my spreadsheet on a regular basis, and I love having that structure.
(E) Detailed, but I have to work for it — I always pair my money check-ins with something really fun, like an indulgent takeout meal.
9. Do you consider yourself competitive?
(A) I’m mildly competitive with myself — I love tracking my habits visually and seeing how much progress I’m making.
(B) I enjoy friendly competition with others, but I’m also just as motivated by mutual support and positive reinforcement.
(C) Yes, I’m definitely competitive with others and myself and enjoy winning just for the sake of it.
(D) No, I don’t really enjoy competition.
(E) I don’t like winning just for the sake of it, but if I know I’ll get something out of it, I can be very competitive.
Now, tally your results!
Mostly A’s: Use a personal habit tracker, color map, or other visual representation of your goals.
You’re a very visual person who likely enjoys crafting, or at least the idea of it. You feel super satisfied when you get to physically cross items off your list — there’s nothing more satisfying than a totally checked-off to-do list at the end of a long day (you may have even framed a particularly arduous to-do list once). You prefer a big-picture look at your finances rather than simply looking at the numbers. To stay on track towards your goal, consider using a color map, habit tracker, or other visual representation.
Mostly B’s: Form a “money talk” group to keep tabs on each others’ progress.
You’re very social and enjoy a lively conversation no matter what topic. You’re a big believer in talking out your emotions. You find it difficult to stay on track towards a goal if you don’t have someone holding you accountable — but you are also very dependable and don’t like letting others down. Forming a money group would be a great way for you to strategize your long-term money goals. Find like-minded friends or family members who also need an accountability buddy, and schedule regular check-ins (or even simply start a group chat!) to help each other stay on track.
Mostly C’s: Use an app to gamify your financial progress.
You’re a competitive person — you understand that not everything in life is a game, but when something is a game, you’re determined to win it. Has that ruined a friendship or two? None that would have lasted anyway. (We’re kidding — kind of.) You need structure in order to reach a goal, but you also want the journey to be fun. Luckily for you, there are plenty of apps that help you make a game out of your goals, financial or otherwise. For instance, Habitica lets you set up your own goals and receive in-game rewards when you check off tasks, such as depositing X amount in your retirement account. If you like winning just for the sake of it, a game is a great way to go after your goals.
Mostly D’s: Stick to your current money spreadsheet.
You’re a deeply analytical person who actually loves to budget and keep track of financial progress just for the sake of it. You don’t really need motivation other than your money goals themselves. Since you’re so self-motivated, don’t worry about finding a more “exciting” way to go after your money goals. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. However, if you find that you’re spending more time analyzing your finances than you actually need to, consider switching over to an app that takes care of it for you. Don’t get so in the weeds of the metrics that you lose track of the reason you were saving money in the first place.
Mostly E’s: Use a rewards system.
You’re the kind of person who needs some skin in the game in order to make significant progress, and listen: there’s nothing wrong with that. You love big celebrations and treating yourself, but recognize those things feel even sweeter when you feel like you’ve earned them. Try setting up your own rewards system for hitting your money milestones. That could be as major as planning a big trip once you reach a certain net worth, or as minor as buying a new book when you hit your monthly savings goal. Rewards don’t have to be material items, either — they could even be free, like rewatching your favorite TV series or baking something delicious.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to get better with money — none of these strategies is more impressive than the others. The key is to find what works best for you so that making responsible money decisions becomes a lifelong habit. Let us know your favorite goal strategies in the comments!
If you’re looking for a simple way to finally start investing what you save, you should check out our sponsor Fidelity. Their team is here to help you reach your money goals. Fidelity’s no-nonsense approach to investing could help give your money the potential to grow. Click here to get started today.
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