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Are you struggling to meet your financial goals like saving money or repairing your credit? If so, you may benefit from learning about SMART goal-setting objectives and how you can leverage them. SMART is actually an acronym that encompasses five important elements of goal setting. With this method, your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based.
Specific: Specific goals are well-defined rather than vague. The more you can focus on a specific goal, the better you can imagine it and then ultimately achieve it. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Who – Who needs to be a part of making this goal happen? If you are creating a family budget, everyone in your household should be involved.
- What – Be very detailed about what you are trying to accomplish.
- When – Come up with a specific time frame in which you want to reach your goal.
- Which – Determine what you will need in order to achieve this goal. This will help determine if this a realistic goal or not.
- Why – You need a strong why. Come up with why this goal is important to your life.
Measurable: How will you determine if you are on the path to meeting your goal? You need to know what metrics and data to use. If you are saving money over the next year, you need to set up markers. This could be saving a certain amount of money by a specific date. When you have a measurable goal, you can easily see you’re on the right track.
Achievable: This part is about figuring out what you need to do in order to achieve this goal. Do you need to change your spending habits or learn some new skills (i.e. how to create a budget)? Figure out what are the tools, skills or resources you will need to get to your end goal.
Realistic: Make sure your goal is something that you can realistically reach. You want to make sure your goal is in line with your current financial situation. Saving $50k in a year is not realistic if your monthly income is $3k a month.
Time-based: A time-based goal is a goal that can be accomplished on a reasonable timeline. Your goal should have a clear and defined end point. For example, I will save $500 by this November.
Completing a SMART objective worksheet like this one (https://www.smartsheet.com/blog/essential-guide-writing-smart-goals) every time you have a goal in mind will help you fine-tune your goals so that they’re more realistic. Writing down your goals will also help you keep them front of mind.
Now that you’ve learned about SMART objectives, take some time to apply them your your financial situation. Set aside some time to brainstorm all the financial goals you’d like to achieve, including both short-term and long-term goals. Here is an example of a SMART financial goal:
S = Start an emergency fund.
M = Put $5000 into a savings account.
A = I will reach my $5,000 goal by saving $200 every month.
R = I can cancel my cable service, gym membership and eat at home to help me save this amount each month.
T = By saving $200 a month, I will save $5,000 in approximately 2 years and 1 month.
Your goal can be anything from saving for a new car or a vacation, paying off student loans, boosting your credit score, or setting aside money for retirement. Once you’ve decided on your top-priority goals, you’ll want to take the time to re-frame them, so they meet the SMART objective criteria.
Now that you’re crystal clear on your financial goals, you’ll want to share them with any family and friends who may be involved in helping you achieve them. Then, you’ll want to carefully track your progress toward meeting your goals, so you know when you’re on track and when you need to adjust your approach. Before you know it, you’ll be achieving each one and increasing your confidence in the process!
Denise Amara is a Senior Credit Strategist and Editor at Creditmarvel.com, the ultimate authority on credit repair. Denise has over 8 years experience writing comprehensive guides that help consumers better their habits as it relates to personal finance and credit.