How To Set Financial Goals | 5 Simple Steps


Do you ever feel you’re working so hard with your money but simply getting nowhere? Or do you feel like you’ve been working your neck off but never seem to have anything to show?

Here’s the thing: If you don’t set financial goals, you’ll probably continue to feel as though you’re just circling in circles. It’s time to put some financial objectives if you want to start progressing.

The concept of saving money for purchases is a timeless one. Whether you’re an 8-year-old looking for a new bike, a teenager is looking for a new car, an adult looking for their first home, or a Canadian citizen looking for the best credit card in Canada to improve their credit score. We have all tried to save money for things beyond our financial grasp.

What Are Financial Goals?

Any strategy you have for managing your money is a financial goal. Both short-term and long-term goals are possible. Saving $1,000, for instance, is a short-term goal, but investing for retirement is a long-term objective. 

No matter how long it takes to achieve them, your goals should help you stay motivated and hold you accountable.

Why Should You Set Financial Goals?

A licenced financial planner and CPA in St. Petersburg, Florida, Allen Wohlwend provides his customers various services. Many people want to aid in organizing their whole financial situation, while others require support with taxes, retirement money, or both.

There’s a common thread – what is your financial goal?

In the words of Wohlwend, “Anyone who enters through the door, if they don’t have any financial objectives, if they have failed to prepare, it’s like the adage goes, they are preparing to fail.” Those who plan and have an idea of what they want to accomplish with their money, those who put a strategy into action and create some positive habits, are golden.

SMART goals must have the following qualities:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

You might create a SMART goal that could be monitored and tracked if you changed the original objective of “increasing your credit score” to “increasing my 680 credit score by 25 points over the next 12 months.” Your chances of achieving this objective rise if you keep an eye on it.

Your Financial Goals And Your Budget Go Hand-In-Hand


A good financial goal in and of itself is developing and adhering to a reasonable budget. With a budget, your efforts to accomplish your plans will succeed.

Strong budgeting abilities are essential for money management and financial planning. Your entire financial plan includes your financial goals, and your budget enables you to assess your plan and make adjustments as necessary to achieve your goals.

You may use your budget to examine your financial accomplishments and failures and identify any parts of your plan that may need to be altered, much as elite athletes maintain meticulous records of their workouts and victories to gain perspective and monitor their growth.

Your budget will also ensure you persevere in the face of financial hardship and have control over your financial condition.

The effectiveness of a budget as a communication tool is another frequently disregarded advantage. Maybe your husband and you need to agree on how much money to spend on something. Or perhaps, as the saying goes, your children believe that money grows on trees.

Your case for needing to reduce takeout or contribute a particular amount to the college fund each month can be supported by the ability to provide measurable evidence of the family’s spending patterns and how they are damaging everyone’s aspirations.

Key Lessons

  • The first step in effective financial and retirement planning is goal formulation, which should include short-, intermediate-, and long-term goals.
  • Establishing a budget, lowering debt, and establishing an emergency fund are important short-term objectives.
  • Key insurance coverage should be part of your medium-term aims, whilst retirement should be your long-term goal.

Three Categories Of Financial Objectives

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) classify financial goals into three categories: long-term (more than 10 years), mid-term (three to 10 years), and short-term (less than three years).

Your financial objectives, which go beyond your assets, may be divided into three categories: long-term, mid-term (or intermediate), and short-term.

Having clear, realistic periods for the remainder of your financial objectives will better equip you to plan the measures you need to take to progress toward each one, just as identifying time frames for your investments will help you to strategize more successfully.

  • Long-Term Goals

Long-term goals are more distant, such as retiring with financial stability or paying off your mortgage. Numerous short-term or mid-term goals are frequently part of your long-term financial objectives. Large ambitions should always be divided into smaller, more manageable ones.

  • Short-Term Goals

You may create short-term goals for items you’d want to be able to afford in the near future, such as a bathroom makeover or a vacation to France, in addition to smaller, more narrowly focused goals that contribute to your long-term goals. Note how particular our case is. There’s a rationale for this.

“We need to give our financial goals particular, attractive titles that conjure up images and sentiments that excite us,” says financial psychologist Dr Brad Klontz.

Financial psychology can aid you in achieving your objectives in part because it motivates you to see the future and what success will look like. This holds for your financial targets, not just your immediate ones.

  • Midterm Goals

Mid-term or intermediate goals might be anything from raising your credit score to starting your own business to putting up the premium for an annuity that would provide you with a lifelong income.

You could look into passive income opportunities or work with a financial professional to help you prepare for retirement. Each of these examples of mid-term financial goals has a duration of three to ten years and serves as a preliminary to a more substantial goal.

What Advantages Do Financial Goals Offer?

You’ll be more likely to reach your financial goals if you set clear, attainable targets. According to research, those who write down their objectives and review them frequently are more likely to succeed. This approach may work for you no matter what financial goals you establish. It is just as successful for CEOs as it is for Olympic athletes.

Specific, written financial goals are simpler to monitor since they are concrete, and accomplishing your short-term goals will inspire you to work toward your intermediate and long-term goals.

You’ll be more likely to stay on track if you regularly assess your financial goals and compare your choices to your spending plan and top priorities, occasionally forgoing a night out or the latest version of the tech item everyone else is putting on their credit cards.

5 Steps for Setting Financial Goals


Setting financial goals is essential if you want to succeed, but how you create those goals is just as important.

  • Clear And Realistic Objectives

To define success, you must first ask yourself this question before establishing any financial goals. You may move backwards from your final goal by defining specific goals for what you are aiming to accomplish and how you will measure your progress. 

You may assign a monetary value to your goals within a time period after they are clearly defined. Here, it’s important to keep in mind that you should include all of your financial objectives, no matter how modest.

While having an optimistic outlook while setting goals is a good idea, being overly pessimistic may decrease your chances of success, as well as your drive and confidence. Setting realistic goals can keep you motivated and on track for your trip.

  • Create An Emergency Fund

You set aside money in an emergency fund, particularly to cover unforeseen costs. $500 to $1,000 is a reasonable starting point. When you reach that objective, you should increase it so that your emergency fund can handle more severe financial challenges, including being laid off. 

You probably wished you had an emergency fund if you didn’t have one before the COVID-19 outbreak. And if you had one, you could have used all of it and now need to restock.

In order to meet your obligations and basic needs, Ilene Davis, a certified financial planner (CFP) with Financial Independence Services in Cocoa, Florida, advises saving at least three months’ worth of money, but ideally six months’ worth—especially if you are married, work for the same employer as your spouse, or live in a place with few job opportunities. According to her, choosing at least one area of your spending where you can cut back will help you pay for your emergency reserves, and you can achieve your financial goals as well. 

  • Consider Your Dreams

Mid-term goals include purchasing a primary residence or, eventually, a vacation house. Perhaps you currently own a property and want to improve it with a significant makeover, or you want to start saving for a larger residence. 

Other midterm goals include saving for college for your kids or grandkids or even when you have kids.

Once you’ve chosen one or more of these goals, start estimating how much money you’ll need to put aside to progress toward achieving them. The first step to obtaining the future you desire is to visualize it.

  • Estimate Your Retirement Needs

You may quickly perform a back-of-the-envelope calculation to determine your level of retirement preparation, according to Oscar Vives Ortiz, a CPA financial advisor with PNC Wealth Management in the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg, Florida, and region:

  • Calculate the yearly costs of living you want to have in retirement. You may estimate how much money you’ll need based on the budget you made when you first set out to achieve your short-term financial goals. In retirement, you might need to budget for greater healthcare expenses.
  • Subtract the anticipated revenue. Include Social Security, pensions, and retirement plans. You will then have the amount that your investment portfolio needs to finance.
  • Calculate the number of retirement assets you’ll require to reach your ideal retirement age. Base this on your current amount and the amount you save each year. You may conduct the calculations using an online retirement calculator. You are on schedule to retire if 4% or less of this balance at retirement covers the remaining costs that Social Security and pension benefits are taken together do not cover.

Keynote: 4% in the history of the U.S. stock market, the highest initial withdrawal rate for retirement, has endured all historical eras, assuming a diversified portfolio of equities and intermediate-grade government bonds.

  • Increase Retirement Savings

According to CFP Vincent Oldre, president of Assured Retirement Group in Minneapolis, the company will often match a portion of your salary if you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan. 

They may match up to 7% or 3% of your salary. The most crucial action you can take to fund your retirement is to make enough contributions to receive your full employer match. If you do this, you may earn a 100% return on your investment.

The fact that many choose not to contribute to their retirement plans because they “can’t afford to” or “are terrified of the stock market” irritates me. They pass up what I refer to as a “no-brainer” return, claims Oldre.

To give the money more time to develop and provide yourself with a greater amount for which to retire, Michael Cirelli, a financial adviser with SAI Financial in Warrenville, Illinois, advises making IRA contributions at the beginning of the year as opposed to the end, when most people choose to do it.

Final Thoughts 

It’s unlikely that you’ll make perfect, linear progress toward any of your goals, but what matters is consistency. Don’t be upset with yourself if you have to withdraw money out of your emergency fund one month because you have an unanticipated auto repair or medical cost; that’s why the fund is there. Just as soon as you can, begin going again.

The same is true if you get sick or lose your work. You may not be able to pay off debt or put money away for retirement during that challenging time, but you can restart your original plan—or maybe a revised version—when you get through it. You’ll need to come up with a new strategy to get through that challenging time.

The beauty of annual financial planning is just that. Through the ups and downs of life, you may evaluate, update, and track your progress toward your objectives. In the process, you’ll discover that both the modest actions you take on a daily and monthly basis and the larger ones you do on an annual and lifetime basis will aid in the achievement of your financial goals.

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