Most Americans have some type of financial goal, including paying down debt or budgeting better. A recent study by Bankrate shows that most families don’t have enough money saved for retirement or short-term emergencies.

Americans’ top financial goals for 2019

  • Pay down debt  30%
  • Budget spending better  13%
  • Save more for retirement  12%
  • Save more for emergencies  10%
  • Invest more money  5%
  • Buy a new home  4%

Other responses: No financial goals (11%); something else (8%); refused to answer (1%).
Source: Bankrate Financial Outlook Survey, Dec. 14-16, 2018

Having a goal is a good start, but carrying it out comes down to breaking it up into small, concrete steps you can take and having discipline and patience, Weiss says.

“It’s great to have longer-term, sort of aspirational goals, but then we need foundational elements that help us achieve it day in and day out,” said Brent Weiss, co-founder of Planning Facet Wealth in Baltimore. “Once we have that, the key here is — and this is not secret sauce, it’s the hardest part — it’s discipline. If we don’t have the discipline to stick to, whether it’s (putting) additional money towards debt because we go and spend it on something fun, we start to lose control of those goals. And the last thing is patience.”