Setting financial goals doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing… it’s full-on adulting, for sure! But it can definitely lead to less stress, and also help you afford to do more fun things. Starting with short-term goals is a great place to start. This will help you build a solid foundation for things you want to do in the longer term, like buying a home, saving for retirement, or paying off debt, as well as having enough spare money to do day-to-day things you enjoy. Here are some tips for setting your short-term financial goals.
The importance of short-term financial goals
1. Focus and motivation
Short-term goals provide clarity and motivation. They help you stay focused on specific objectives that you can achieve relatively quickly, and that can boost your confidence and motivation to tackle bigger financial goals.
2. Financial discipline
Working toward short-term goals can help you to become more disciplined in your day-to-day financial habits. It encourages regular saving, budgeting, and responsible spending.
3. Financial security
Achieving short-term goals can boost your financial security. Whether it’s building an emergency fund or paying off high-interest debt, these goals provide a safety net and reduce financial stress.
4. Stepping stones
Short-term goals serve as stepping stones toward bigger financial milestones. When you accomplish them, you create a strong financial foundation that can support your long-term aspirations.
How to set short-term financial goals
1. Identify your priorities
Start by thinking about your financial priorities. What are the most pressing financial needs or wants that you have in the next one to three years? This could be saving for a vacation, paying off credit card debt, or building an emergency fund.
2. Make your goals SMART
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. For example, a goal like “Save $3,000 for a summer vacation in 12 months” is SMART, as it’s specific, quantifiable, realistic, and has a clear deadline—which makes it easier to achieve.
3. Break down large goals
If you have a big short-term goal, break it down into smaller, more manageable milestones. For instance, if you want to save $6,000 for a down payment on a car in the next two years, set a goal of saving $3,000 each year.
4. Consider your current financial situation
Be realistic about what you can achieve based on your current income and expenses. Setting overly ambitious goals is discouraging if you can’t reach them.
Examples of short-term financial goals
1. Emergency fund
Establish an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses like medical bills or car repairs. Aim to save three to six months’ worth of living expenses.
2. Pay off high-interest debt
Prioritize paying off high-interest debts, like credit card balances. Set a specific goal to eliminate a certain amount of debt within a defined timeframe.
3. Build a vacation fund
It’s important to plan fun and rewarding experiences throughout your financial journey. One great way to do this is to save money for a dream vacation or a special trip. Set a savings target and plan for the trip’s estimated cost.
4. Start an investment portfolio
Start investing in stocks, bonds, or other types of investments. Set a goal to invest a particular amount of money within a year.
5. Home renovation
If you’re planning a home improvement project, set a budget and savings goal for it.
Tips for achieving short-term financial goals
1. Create a budget
Establishing a budget helps you allocate your income toward your goals effectively. It also lets you identify areas where you can cut back on spending to boost your savings.
2. Automate your savings
Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account. That way you consistently save a portion of your income without the temptation to spend it.
3. Monitor your progress
Regularly check your progress toward your short-term financial goals. This keeps you accountable and motivated to stay on track. It’s also helpful to keep track of which categories your money is going toward each month, to make sure you’re only spending what you need to. The Brigit app’s Finance Helper is a great tool for this.
4. Adjust as needed
Life can be unpredictable, and sometimes things change. If your circumstances change, it’s okay to adjust your goals accordingly. Whether you need to increase or decrease your savings target, flexibility is key.
5. Seek professional advice
If your goals involve more complex financial matters, like investing or tax planning, consider working with a financial advisor. They can provide expert guidance customized to what you want to achieve.
6. Celebrate milestones
When you achieve a short-term financial goal, celebrate your success. Acknowledging your accomplishments can reinforce good financial habits and motivate you to tackle the next goal.
The bottom line: your short term financial goals
Setting and achieving short-term financial goals is an important step on your path to financial success. These goals provide focus, motivation, and contribute to financial security; they’re building blocks for reaching your long-term aspirations. By identifying your priorities, making your goals SMART, and developing good financial habits, you can reach your short-term financial goals and create a strong foundation for your future success.