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SMART Moves

SMART Moves

| March 26, 2024

SMART Financial Goals Can Help Guide Your Way to Financial Wellness

Financial goals play a crucial role in the pursuit of financial wellness. Whether it’s paying off credit card debt, saving for retirement, making a down payment on a home — or any other goal — they help guide your actions, habits and decision-making.

As you think about your financial future, consider creating SMART financial goals. As you may know from setting your work goals, SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Instead of setting goals with vague aspirations (such as “I need to start saving more money”), SMART goals encourage you to think things through and define what success looks like. Here’s how you can create SMART financial goals:

SPECIFICDefine exactly what you want to achieve. Instead of saying “I want to save money,” specify the amount and purpose, such as “I want to save $5,000 for a down payment on a house in the next 12 months.”

MEASURABLESet criteria to measure your progress. In the previous example, the measurable piece is the $5,000 target within 12 months. You can track your progress periodically to ensure you’re on the right path.

ACHIEVABLEYour goal should be realistic and attainable. Consider your income, expenses and other financial obligations. Saving $5,000 in a year might be achievable depending on your income and expenses, but saving $10,000 might not be.

RELEVANTMake sure your goal aligns with your broader financial objectives and priorities. For instance, if your long-term goal is to retire early, saving for retirement or investing might be more important than saving for a luxury vacation.

TIME-BOUNDSet a clear timeframe for achieving your goal. This adds a sense of urgency and helps you stay focused. For example, saving $5,000 within 12 months provides a deadline and helps structure your savings plan.

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Review these hypothetical personal finance examples to help inspire your own SMART goal-setting efforts:

Retirement Savings

Specific: Contribute $400 monthly to your workplace retirement plan

Measurable: Track monthly contributions and investment growth

Achievable: Adjust budget to allocate a fixed amount to retirement savings

Relevant: Securing financial stability postretirement

Time-bound: Consistently contribute $400 monthly for the next 30 years.

Emergency Fund

Specific: Save $3,000 in a dedicated emergency fund

Measurable: Track monthly savings progress to reach $3,000 within 10 months

Achievable: Allocate a portion of income or windfall (bonuses, tax refunds) toward savings

Relevant: Provides a safety net for unexpected expenses

Time-bound: Achieve the $3,000 goal within 10 months.

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Need help with your SMART Goals?  Contact our team for a consultation to set your goals in motion! 

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Informational Sources: How to Set SMART Financial Goals (Experian, April 11, 2022); How to Set SMART Financial Goals With Examples (Finmasters, November 27, 2023).