Now that you’ve been through your year-end financial checklist, it’s time to look ahead to next year and set some financial goals.

For some, a new year is a good opportunity to establish better habits, such as paying off credit card debt or creating (and sticking to) a budget, while for others a new year simply means more contribution room for building up their TFSAs, RRSPs, and RESPs.

Tracking your progress

I’ve used this blog as a way to set financial goals and hold myself accountable to achieve them. While it hasn’t been perfect, writing down and publishing my goals here each year has helped me get closer to financial independence.

But you don’t need a blog to help track your progress. Insurance giant Standard Life is set to launch a new mobile app called Goalkeeper that aims to do just that – turn your dreams into reality by setting dollar-figure goals (with deadlines) and helping you achieve them by making small changes to your spending habits.

  • Be one of the first 500 people to sign up for the app and you’ll be entered for a chance to win $500.

My financial goals for 2015 are fairly straightforward.

Repay half of our line of credit – We took out a home equity line of credit this year to develop our basement. The renovation cost $32,500 and we plan on paying that off over two years. I’ve budgeted $1,425 per month to put back onto the line of credit, which will get us to that halfway point (including interest) by the end of the year.

Switch from dividend stocks to ETFs – I’ve explained the decision to switch my RRSP from Canadian dividend stocks to an ETF – specifically Vanguard’s All World ex-Canada Index ETF (VXC). Now it’s time to implement the strategy. That means selling 23 individual stocks and purchasing units of the Vanguard ETF, which I plan to do in stages throughout the year.

Relax about the little things – I can be a bit of a miser when it comes to spending on (what I consider to be) frivolous items. But I’ve learned that what’s frivolous to me might be important to others (like my wife) and so I can’t get upset about her spending $50 on a home décor item when I’m just as likely to blow $50 on a few cases of beer.

Related: What’s busting your budget?

We’ve added ‘home décor’ to the monthly budget – an amount that we both agreed would meet our needs without derailing our other financial goals.

Finish the four-course CFP program – Next week I’ll write the second exam of the four-part online CFP certification program. By this time next year I hope to have completed all four courses, after which I’ll have to write the first of two CFP examinations – Financial Planning Examination Level 1 – administered by the Financial Planning Standards Council.

Final thoughts

There’s not much to get excited about when it comes to next year’s goals, so I’ll need to have the patience to look at what’s ahead over the next 12-24 months.  The fact is, we took on some debt and now we need to repay it.  Simple as that.

Two years from now our line of credit and car loan will be paid off, freeing up $2,250 per month with which to save. That $27,000 per year will go a long way towards catching up on TFSA contributions, and re-building our savings.

RelatedHow automation and habit combine to produce amazing results

Finally, the CFP certification will open up new doors for my fee-only financial planning business, which should continue to grow as the industry adopts new disclosure requirements around costs, performance, and conflict of interest.

What financial goals do you hope to achieve next year?

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