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Have S.M.A.R.T. Financial Goals

October 20, 2020 by Hunter Swanson

Goals fuel us to succeed. They push us through tribulations and overcome obstacles in pursuit of the things we want and need in our lives. Financial goals are no different. We work hard to achieve them – taking us from “I wish I had…” to “I did.” From paying for school to buying a home to going on vacation, we all have financial goals. Using the S.M.A.R.T. framework helps make them a reality.


S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

Specific

When first setting up a financial goal, be very specific about what you want to accomplish in the end. It’s your mission statement. Consider the 5 W’s:

  1. Who – Who needs to be involved?
  2. What – What am I trying to accomplish?
  3. When – When will things need to happen by?
  4. Where – Where is this taking place?
  5. Why – Why am I doing this?

Measurable

Having and following concrete numbers gives a stable platform to work with. Your metrics and data can help answer a lot of the above questions and provide a way to actually measure your progress and results. If it’s a savings goal that is going to take several months to complete, then set some goal markers by considering detailed tasks to accomplish or an amount to reach at a certain month.


Achievable

This one is meant to inspire motivation, to keep you going in the right direction. First, is your goal something that you actually reach? Really focus on how important a goal is to you and what you can do to make it attainable. Also pay attention to if it requires developing new skills and/or changing bad spending behaviors. You could want to save $10,000 in 2021, but if you find yourself perusing Amazon deals too often, something will need to give.


Realistic

A pool in your backyard in Alaska can be specific, can be measurable, and even achievable, but is it realistic? Don’t set yourself up for failure with unrealistic expectations. Focus on something that makes sense for your current situation. Sit down and really think about what it’s going to take to reach this goal and if you’ve set the bar too high.


Time-Bound

Easily overlooked, having a time frame for your financial goals can be one of the key elements to its success. Providing a target dates and deadlines is incredibly important. If a goal will take 6 months to achieve, it’s helpful to define what should be attained at mile markers through the progression. Providing time constraints also creates a sense of urgency, and it can give extra motivation to those who need it.

Here’s an example:

S = I need to save for a down payment on a new car.

M = I plan to save $5,000.

A = I will save $200 every month.

R = I can afford it with my current income. I would like the car sooner, but I cannot afford to save more than that.

T = By saving $200 a month, I will save $5,000 in 25 months.


The S.M.A.R.T. financial framework is designed to help you determine precisely what you want and how to get it. Remember, life happens. When things change, stay on top of your goals. Monitor them closely and make the necessary adjustments to help you achieve your financial goals. 

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