SMART money goals

Get Smart with SMART Money Goals

Have you ever wondered why you don’t have more money in the bank, or you buy things you don’t need? Ever been jealous that someone else is reaching all of your money goals?

Perhaps you aren’t budgeting, or you’re spending too much on extras. Odds are good that you aren’t determined and focused. And more than likely, you’re not using SMART money goals. 

We all have goals that we want to achieve

But we don’t get there with magic and wishful thinking. It takes a strong plan and hard work to achieve money goals.

In fact, not having a plan is likely to result in a vicious cycle of unnecessary self-defeat, anxiety, and stress.

It’s simply not enough to say how much money you want to save. SMART money goals say so much more. 

Achieving your money goal will be so much easier with the SMART formula. 

Why? Becuase SMART money goals change the structure of your brain to make you more likely to succeed. They elicit an emotional response that restructures your brain. 

Keep reading to learn how to create SMART money goals.

What are money goals?

Money goals, aka financial goals, are objectives or milestones that you want to achieve. They can be:

  • Retiring by a certain age
  • Saving a certain amount of money
  • Earning a certain amount of money
  • A big purchase (i.e., a house, car, or new furniture)
  • Being debt-free
  • Taking a vacation once a year without credit
  • Money goals are the end results that you want to achieve with your money

But what is a SMART money goal?

SMART money goals

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.


Create concrete, distinct goals that are exactly what you want to achieve. It’s not a roundabout or approximate number. Set clear, specific money goals.


You have to be able to measure your money goals. So you can track it. It’s is kind of hard to do without a number.


Your money goals must be achievable. While everything is possible to some extent, the likelihood of you winning the lottery and quadrupling your investments every year is probably not going to happen.

Don’t set yourself up for failure.


Set realistic goals. Not only do your goals have to be achievable, but they also need to be realistic. So be sure to base your goals on what works for your life. 

You must set goals that you can achieve. For example, you can’t say $1K a month if you only make $1.5K a month. 

Dustin Wax wrote in Lifehack that our brain pushes us to accomplish goals because it believes that these goals are an essential part of who we are. When we set unrealistic goals, we have more stress and anxiety as our brain fights to achieve the goal.


Create goals that can be achieved in a specific timeframe. Give yourself a time goal for every money goal you set. When do you want to accomplish something?

Money goals are categorized into three time periods (short, medium, and long-term).

Short term goals (1 to 2 years)

Example: Build an emergency fund, Take a vacation, or Make a big purchase

SMART money goal: I will save $XX in high yield savings account for XX months to do XYZ.

Medium-term goals (2-5 years)

Example: Buy a house, pay off debt, run a business

SMART money goal: I want to put down XX% on a $XX house in XX years. I am going to save or invest $XX a month for XX years to accomplish that goal.

SMART money goal: I want to pay off $XX in debt with $XX a month/week in XX years. 

SMART money goal: I will earn $X from my side hustle every month in XX months.

Long term goals (5-20 years)

Example: Invest for retirement, pay off the house

SMART money goal: I will invest $XX every month for XX years to have a retirement goal of $XXX.

SMART money goal: I will pay $XX extra every month to pay off my house in XX years.

Final Thoughts

Money goals are personal. Today, take action for yourself. 

Stop keeping your money goals in your brain. Instead, establish goals using the SMART formula. Then, be sure to write them down. Remember, your brain wants you to be successful and achieve that goal. People who set money goals are more motivated, have higher confidence, and more autonomy than those who do not. 

If you’re feeling a little lost on your goals, try creating a vision board, journaling, or calculating your FI number (Financial Independence). Just imagine the gratification you will feel when you’re successful.

Clearly defined goals are one step in the right direction towards financial freedom. So let’s talk about your SMART money goals in the comments below. 

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Theresa is a personal finance blogger. She writes content for busy professional women to take control of their money and investments. She enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, and writing. Her work has been featured on GoBanking Rates, Your Money Geek, Savoteur, the Corporate Quitter, Thirty Eight Investing, and more.