Reaching financial and health goals begin with small steps

We all have financial and health goals we want to achieve, whether it’s paying off debt or losing that last ten pounds. Sometimes these goals seem so big that it’s hard to know where to start. This can lead to putting off making strides to achieve our goals and sometimes hinder the chances of achieving that goal at all.

However, according to Small Steps to Health and Wealth, there is never a step too small to take to reach your goals and it is never a bad time to take that step. SSHW is a national initiative of the Cooperative Extension Service developed by Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension and implemented in Arkansas and across the nation.

Reaching a goal begins with changing behaviors to make steps towards the goal.

Laura Hendrix, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture associate professor of personal finance and consumer economics, recommends following the 5 A’s to behavior change.

The first A is awareness—taking an honest look at your current habits to assess whether you are in denial about where you stand in reaching your goal.

“It’s easy to disconnect from the reality of financial and health practices,” said Hendrix. “This disconnect is denial and it can be a real problem if you’re trying to improve your health or wealth. Awareness is necessary for behavior change.”

The second is ability, or your ability to make the change, followed by ambition, your desire to make the change. The fourth is attitude. To change your behavior for the better, your attitude must reflect it. Be positive about the changes you are making. The last is action, where you follow through on taking the necessary steps to change the behavior.

Hendrix also recommends written records of your habits to identify where changes need to be made to reach your goal.

For your financial goals, Hendrix suggests tracking all spending for two months.

“Most people don’t have a clue how many dollars they spend monthly on incidental expenses such as food and entertainment,” said Hendrix.

For health goals, she recommends keeping a food and exercise journal for two weeks to keep track of what you are eating and drinking and the duration and type of physical activity you are getting.

For more information about the Small Steps to Health and Wealth program, visit For more information about personal finance, visit and follow uaexMoney on Facebook and Twitter.