How SMART Are Your Goals?

Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Relevant – Timely

  • A goal that’s specific is one that’s clearly defined and described in detail.  Precisely, what do you want to accomplish?  “I want to save for my child’s college education” is not a specific goal, but “I want to save the cost of 4 years at Homegrown U. by the time my daughter turns 17” is clearly defined.
  • With a goal that’s measurable, you should be able to track your progress and clearly know when you’ve reached it.  For example, “I want to retire early” is not a measurable goal, but “I want to retire by my 55th birthday” is a goal that has a definite endpoint.
  • An attainable goal is realistic and reachable.  Goals can be challenging, but you should have a fair chance of achieving them.  “I want to save $1 million in 5 years” is not an attainable goal for many people, but “I want to save $1 million in 30 years” may well be an attainable goal.
  • A relevant goal is one that makes sense to you, and that reflects your specific needs and your values.  Goals that are relevant are goals you will be excited about because they will be important to you.  For example, “I want to save $100,000 for a down payment so I can own my own home” is an example of a goal that might be relevant.
  • You must be able to set a time frame or deadline for reaching your goal. “I want to pay off my credit card debt by the end of next year” is a goal that has a clear deadline.

Your goals are the foundation of your financial plan because you need to know what you want to accomplish before you can begin saving or investing.  Once you’ve identified and prioritized your financial goals, you can develop a clear-cut savings or investment strategy that can help turn your dreams into reality.