If you want to be a better person, you must have a goal in mind. Goals can help you achieve your purpose in life by pushing you further than you are now. What are your goals? What are your big dreams for this year? Are you ready to take on the world?

A goal is essential to you, but it also has an action plan. You can’t just say that you’re going to “eat healthier” or “start working out” because those are statements with no substance behind them. Instead of displaying your goal, be more specific and tell yourself how you want to accomplish it.

Top Goals Worth Pursuing This Year - top goals, this year, organize, cutting costs, accounts

Paying off debts

One of the main reasons people get into debt is that they spend beyond their means. If you want to clear your debts, consider paying them off as a top goal worth pursuing this year. The first thing you need to do is create a budget and stick to it.

Your budget should include the essentials such as groceries, utilities, rent or mortgage, and car payments. You may also have other important things, like entertainment and vacations, but don’t overspend on them. Next, create a savings plan for items important to you but not necessary for daily living, such as retirement or children’s education fund. Keep in mind that some things can be put on hold until you have cleared all your debts.

Improving the neighborhood

Tackling problems and making your community a better place to live is a worthwhile pursuit. Learn about how to get involved in neighborhood improvement projects and initiatives. You could certainly start by talking with friends, neighbors, and local leaders about what needs to be done to give your neighborhood a boost. You could even end up winning Nextdoor’s Love Your Neighborhood Award due to your efforts. Sure, awards aren’t the goal, but recognition doesn’t hurt, either!

Save for an emergency fund

Most Americans don’t have enough money saved to cover even a minor emergency like a job loss or car repair bill. People give the most common reason for not having an emergency fund is “I don’t have any extra money.” But if you’re paying down debt or saving for retirement, you’re probably not spending all of your take-home pay anyway.

Setting up and contributing to a high-yield savings account is a significant first step toward building your emergency fund — and it’s also likely to be the easiest way for many people to save more money this year. Depending on what you can afford, you can start with as little as $25 or $50 in savings.

Organize your accounts

This year your big goal should be to get all of your accounts in order. If you’ve got a stack of unopened statements from different lenders, or if you’ve got a checkbook that could tell your financial story better than you can, then this is the year to get it all organized, so you’re completely on top of what’s happening with your money.

Lenders and credit card companies will love it when you take the time to do this. It shows that you’re interested and involved in your finances, and it also gives them an easier way to find you when they need to contact you about an account. That’s especially important with credit card companies. If they can’t see you when they send out something like an annual fee notification or a change in terms of use, then they’ll close out your account.

Once they do that, they can’t just reopen it by sending a new card in the mail -and have to start the approval process all over again, which means more paperwork for them and long before they get paid on interest charges.

Cutting costs

Cutting costs doesn’t mean depriving yourself or depriving your family. It means living within your means and spending less than you earn. That can be accomplished by identifying areas draining your finances and looking for ways to cut back.

Look for ways to trim spending so you’ll have more cash or credit available to put toward other financial goals. If your budget is too tight to allow for much flexibility, consider upping your income first. Then look at cutting expenses that don’t add value to your life (like expensive cell phone plans) or even luxuries (like eating out).

Setting goals for the new year is a great way to focus your energy and priorities. If you don’t set goals for yourself, the world tends to take its course, and that course is often nothing like what you want it to be. It’s better to have wildly ambitious goals than to have no goals at all.