Setting financial goals is an important step towards gaining control of your finances and getting out of debt. Building up an emergency fund, saving up for a down payment, paying off a credit card… All of these are great goals to have. The key is determining the proper strategy to work towards achieving your financial goals. To give yourself the best chance, make sure your goals are SMART.
What is a SMART Goal?
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. These are the qualities that your financial goal should have. Let’s explain each of these traits using examples…
Specific: I will pay off $5,000 in unsecured debt.
Measurable: I will apply at least $100 each month to that debt.
Achievable: I can achieve this if I cut back on my cable, mobile phone service, and other discretionary spending.
Relevant/Realistic: I need to reduce my debt to apply more money to savings and future goals.
Timely: I will pay off this debt in 30 months.
You can break down your goals even further by categorizing them as either short-term, mid-term, or long-term. This is the time period in which you can accomplish a goal. The example goal above is a mid-term goal since it will take two and a half years to accomplish. Having an accurate perspective of time is essential to successfully completing a goal; it can be motivating to know that you will pay off the debt quickly or to work harder so that the debt can be paid down faster. Here are three ways to define the length of a goal.
Short-term Goal: Less than 1 year
Mid-term Goal: 2-5 years
Long-term Goal: More than 5 years
It’s easy to identify a worthy goal, but developing a plan to achieve that goal can be more difficult. Making SMART goals helps you determine if a goal is reachable, and also outlines the steps you need to take to actually accomplish your goal. When it comes to getting out of debt, you need a plan. A SMART goal can help you get on the right path towards a better financial future.
Speaking of goals, do you have a financial resolution for 2015? Take our poll to share, and find out what are the most common financial goals for the upcoming year!