June 21, 2021 5 min read

S.M.A.R.T Goals

Goal-setting is a very important part of the personal finance process. We all have goals, things we want to accomplish with our money.  There is an effective and simple way to write meaningful and attainable goals so you can build a strong money game.

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 This is known as S.M.A.R.T. Goal-Setting. You may have heard this acronym “S.M.A.R.T” before, today we are going to break it down and walk you through why setting S.M.A.R.T goals are the most effective way to make sure your goals will get you where you want to go. 

 Let’s start with breaking down the acronym and what it stands for: 

 

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When you’re thinking about what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to get there, you need to make sure you’ve addressed all five of these categories as you’re writing down and developing your goals. 

 Let’s walk through a sample goal and show how each part of the acronym applies. 

 Here is our scenario:

 Our goal-setter likes to watch live hockey but doesn’t have a local Team in her hometown. She has to travel to watch hockey games live. 

 

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Her goal, to see as many hockey games as possible this year. You might’ve guessed, but we are talking about one of my goals! I think using a real goal is the best way to see how the SMART goal-setting process should be applied. 

 Traveling to watch hockey is one of my personal goals. But it’s a rather vague goal. I want to watch hockey, alright.  How am I going to do it?

 This is where we make a plan using the S.M.A.R.T acronym. 

 Let’s take my goal and improve it:

 "I want to travel to different cities and watch live hockey."

 

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S - SPECIFIC, SIGNIFICANT

Is itspecific

At this point, not really. I've indicated that my goal is to travel and see a hockey game. I have not set a goal for how many games or where I will see them.  This is where we get specific. In order to be more specific, my goal might look something like this:

“I want to see 5 hockey games, in 5 cities. 2 on the east coast, 2 on the west coast, and 1 in theMidwest.”

Now we are getting somewhere! I know how many games I plan on going to and a rough idea of where I will be traveling for those games. 

Next, is itsignificant?
It is definitely significant to me. I love hockey, it is my favorite sport, therefore reaching my goal should be easy for me.

M - MEASURABLE, MOTIVATIONAL 

Is itmeasurable

Yes, I know I want to hit 5 games in 5 cities, that is a measurable goal. If I only hit 3 of the 5 games, I can measure my progress to my goal then reassess as needed.

Is it Motivation? 

Yup! Iwantto hit 5 games, because I want to do this, I will work to get there. I am motivated by a reward, in this case, watching 5 games live. 

Starting to see a pattern yet?

A - ATTAINABLE 

Next up,Attainable.

Now, this one is a big one for this specific goal. If I am going to travel to 5 cities to see hockey I have a few expenses I need to start looking at to see if 5 games is even attainable. 

Let’s break it down:

I am going to estimate the cost for 1 game based on where I live and the cost to travel from that location:

Let’s break it down:

I am going to estimate the cost for 1 game based on where I live and the cost to travel from that location:

Game Travel Costs:

Flight - $400 | round trip  I plan on flying in the day before the game and leaving the day after. 3 days, 2 nights.

Hotel - $380 | 2 nights 
I plan on flying in the day before the game and leaving the day after. 3 days, 2 nights.

Food - $120 | 3 days 
As long as i keep my budget in my mind and stick to it. I wont overspend on food during my travels. 

Rental Car - $100 | 3 days 
Depending on the city and time of year, this cost may vary a little.

Spending Money/Extra Cash - $75  
A little spending money in my pocket for each trip

Game Tickets $75/ticket - $150 total  2 game tickets - estimated based on where I am watching the game.

Estimated total trip cost = $1,225 

If I am going to save enough for 5 trips I would need $6,125 saved. 

5 games * $1,225= $6,125 

Is this attainable for my financial picture? This is something I am going to have to review. If it is not, I would need to to reduce the number of games I am planning to see to make this goal more attainable. 


R - RESULT-ORIENTED, REASONS 

Results oriented, Reason.

This is the why. Why are you doing this? In the case of our current goal. This is a vacation, a reward, a lifestyle choice and something Iwant to do. The reason behind it and the results I will get will improve my personal life. 


Everyone has their reasons and those reasons yield a result. Make sure your goal lines up with your personal wants and needs. 

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T - TIME DRIVEN

Time Driven. 

Have I given myself a timeline? In the original goal of watching hockey. I didn't give myself a timeline on seeing 5 games in 5 cities. Now we need to assign a timeline so I can decide when and how I am going to hit my goal.

In this case we’ve got all by the timing in our goal. So let’s write this out and see how our SMART acronym has helped improve our goal.

“I want to watch 5 live hockey games in 5 cities by the end of the next hockey season.” 

That is just one example of writing a S.M.A.R.T. goal, take your own approach and make your goals work for you.  In some cases, you may need to adjust or change your goals and how you are managing them, that is normal. Be flexible and give yourself the opportunity to make changes. 


Using smart goals gives you the outline for how to dive into your goal and make sure that it works for you. As you get better and better at writing goals, this process will become easier. 

 

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