I love seeing other people’s financial goal examples.
Goal setting is something I had always struggled with. It seemed kind of hokey. I never had any idea what I actually wanted…
This was basically me…
Experts say you need to set “SMART” Goals.
Which stands for…
- Specific: like “I want to have no credit card debt” versus “I want to be better with money.”
- Measurable: like “I want to have $5,000 in savings” versus “I want to feel like I’m in control of my money.”
- Achievable: like “I want to pay off $5,000 of debt this year” versus “I want to pay off $110k of debt this year.”
- Reasonable: like “I want to pay an extra $200 a month towards debt” versus “I want to be debt free in 3 months”.
- Timely: like “I want to have a debt balance of $10,000 less by December 31st.” versus “I want to work towards paying off my debt”.
Setting SMART financial goals has helped me format my goals so they make sense… but it didn’t help me choose what I wanted most. And it didn’t help me stay focused on the goal so I could achieve it.
Because of this, for many years… goal setting would be something I’d haphazardly throw out there on New Year’s Eve, but for the most part, wasn’t something that was driving my life.
Everything changed for me when I finally learned how to work with my unique personality to get my home and budget under control once and for all.
Which is a different story for another day, but it was insane in the best possible way.
After trying and failing for years, I was suddenly able to reduce our spending by over $23,000 a year, pay off our debt, quit my job to stay home with my kids, and replace my salary from home (first by running a home daycare for a few years and then by teaching chronically disorganized people how to work with their unique personalities to manage their home and budget online for the last 7 years).
And I learned one of the best goal setting tricks in the world…
What finally worked for me was seeing financial goal examples from other people.
These financial goal examples helped in two ways.
- It helped me brainstorm what was possible and think about if that’s something I would also like.
- It also helped me to see the logic behind why they chose that goal.
When you don’t know what you want.
If you don’t know what you want, focus on what you don’t want.
Seeing how most people’s goals stemmed from something they were unhappy with and wanted to make better helped me to look at my own life and decide what I didn’t want (then flipping that into what I did want).
For example: When I was unhappy at work, asking me what I wanted just confused me. I had no idea. There were 10,000 potential paths and any of them seemed better than where I was.
But when I asked myself what I don’t want, it was easy.
- I don’t want to make less than I make now.
- No constantly changing schedule and overtime.
- I don’t want to feel like I can’t “win” at work (it felt impossible to make a difference).
- I don’t want my life to be work- laundry- dishes- bed.
In a similar scenario: I didn’t care that we had credit card debt. Everyone I knew had credit card debt.
What I didn’t want though was never having extra money available for vacations and things I wanted.
Knowing what I didn’t want led me to the conclusion that if we became debt free, we would have hundreds of dollars a month to spend as we wanted.
MY favorite financial goal examples were from the people a little bit ahead of where I was. When they spelled out what they wanted, why they wanted it, and then showed me how to track it… it made perfect sense. And it felt like we were doing it together.
I’m going to do the same thing for you.
It’s more important to make goals than to make them perfect.
Were they all SMART? Nope, but most were.
For me, if I were to take something like “have weekly budget meetings” and change it to “have at least 45 budget meetings by December 31st”… I’m unnecessarily complicating it. I don’t have time (or need) to track that.
But when it became more normal for me to have a budget meeting than to skip one, I called that goal accomplished. (8 years later… we’re still doing them).
Were they all achieved? Surprisingly, yes. Because they were all very reasonable. Some took longer than expected, some took significantly shorter, and we had quite a few bumps along the way. But, as a whole, these goals guided us to where we are now.
Full disclosure: After a lot of thought, I deleted the goals related to a brewery we built several years ago. We ended up achieving a lot of those goals but building the brewery was a pretty big mistake and it shut down after a year of being open. I decided to spare you the pages of foot- notes I’d have to write if I included those.
But if you’re like… “What? I want to see the brewery mistake too!” Let me know and I might write an email about that.
Financial Goal Examples From Our First 5 Years.
(After learning how to work with our unique personality to manage budgeting and the house).
Year 1: Reduce our spending by $20,000 a year by December 31st.
Reason behind it: I really wanted to be able to quit my job. Reducing our spending by this much would help us live on one salary and pay off our debt.
- Move out of our Townhouse into something with an extra bedroom for the new baby keeping the same monthly payment.
- Rent the home that we own out for the mortgage amount plus an extra $100/month.
Reason behind it: This let us switch out of living situation to a house that would work for our growing family while the house we owned was still under water.
Year 2: Pay off all credit card debt by December 31st.
Reason behind it: This would increase the monthly amount we had every month to spend by over $350/month and would make it easier for me to quit my job.
- Start a home daycare which allows me to work predictable hours, do all home management tasks during my working hours, and replace my salary from home (after taxes).
- Save up enough cash to sell underwater car and buy a minivan with cash.
- Have weekly budget meetings.
Reason behind it: Starting the home daycare replaced my salary but allowed me to work 50 hours a week but also combine doing home management and work and cooking during those 50 hours. Which gave me more free time than I’ve ever had, weekends and holidays off and I got to spend every day with my kids.
By selling the car that was worth less than we owed, paying off that loan and paying cash for a $5k minivan let us ditch our $300/month car payment which gave us extra money to spend and save. This is one of my best financial goal examples EVER!
Year 3: Replace my daycare salary with my online business by December 31st.
Reason behind it: Earning enough in my online business let me close the day care, which reduced my working hours from 50 hours a week to 20 hours a week, still with weekends and holidays off and still getting to stay home with the kids all day.
- Continue to grow online business to reduce working hours and increase time margins by the end of the year.
- Have a fully funded emergency fund.
Reason behind it: Increasing income meant increasing savings and emergency fund, and it meant having more cushion, more stability, and less stress.
Year 4: Research, find, and buy a house that we believe we’ll want to stay in forever by August 31st.
Reason behind it: I really wanted to get out of Northern Virginia. We got together with our best friends (another couple with kids close to our kids ages who also weren’t fans of the area) and decided as a group to move out of Northern Virginia to a place that we were more excited to raise our kids in (and had less traffic) and put down roots.
- Purchase home by putting down 20% in cash and keeping monthly payments less than 25% of our monthly income.
- Sell the rental property we own at a profit.
Reason behind it: By Buying a house we loved at a reasonable amount and putting a good down payment down, we put down roots and could pay extra every month and grow it as an investment. One that we live in.
Hint: They keep going, we’re on year 9 now, but I worried that the later year’s goals were more overwhelming and less inspirational so I omitted them.
Want to make your own financial goals for the new year?
Here’s my best advice to make it work for you.
1. Don’t overthink this.
Just set ANY financial goal. It doesn’t have to be the right goal or the perfect one. You’ll have plenty of time to change it but it’s more important that you start working towards something.
If it’s too hard to choose what you’ll want in 5 years, then just plan a year at a time. If a year is overwhelming, then just plan a quarter at a time.
2. Break it down.
Break goals into smaller steps so they’re easier to go after. If you set a yearly goal, you won’t even think about that goal until December (and by then you’ll have forgotten about it.)
Set smaller weekly goals and focus on them every week.
3. Start with this.
Set goals that are EASY to achieve. This is my absolute favorite trick. When I set REALLY easy goals to achieve, I not only achieve them, I blow right through them and surpass them.
If I set goals that are a stretch for me to reach, then I get discouraged and give up easily.
Set fun goals as often as serious ones (things like saving for vacation or new boots adds fuel to the fire for “becoming debt-free.” We teach incentivized savings which unlocks rewards for you when you save money, this is the only thing that works for people who can’t stick to a budget long term.
4. Write it down and set reminders.
Write your goals down. FutureMe is my FAVORITE!!! You can send yourself emails into the future… 6 months, 5 years, etc. I get emails that I’ve written to myself in the past routinely and forward them to myself at least once a year.
It’s free and is the best way to reflect on how far you’ve come.
If you set a goal, you can email yourself reminders of what your goal is and why it means so much to you every 3 months.
Hint: I also love to write in FutureMe (3 years in the future) when I feel super overwhelmed and worried about something. Getting those emails about something that felt hopeless 3 years ago then looking back and realizing that it wasn’t even remotely a big deal is one of the best investments in mental health and perspective that I’ve ever had. FutureMe is completely free.
Check in weekly for goal progress. Budget meetings are also goal meetings.
5. Focus in on the most important goals.
Don’t go goal crazy. Just plan the most important goals. You can only work on one or two at a time without getting overwhelmed anyway.
6. Establish the foundation.
Pay attention to cause and effect. When people have goals like “stick to the budget” you’ll quickly find that there are dozens of actions that need to be mastered BEFORE you’re able to “stick to the budget.”
That’s why you MUST tackle things in the right order. You MUST learn foundation first and build upon it. Hot Mess to Home Success teaches this in a really simple way and focuses on bare minimum effort on a consistent basis.
7. Be open to change.
Embrace the unknown. If you don’t know what you want, that’s perfectly ok.
Focus on what you don’t want. And then “try on” goals. Take a goal you think you might like and work towards it. If you later decide you don’t want that goal, that’s really good insight (that you can’t get anywhere else other than experience).
Change your path and enjoy the fact that you can start on that new path without any regrets of wondering “what if.”
Hint: Goal setting is an advanced step. If you don’t have the foundation of budgeting down, then this will never work for you. If you need to get the foundation under control first, I can teach that to you in this free 1-hour training (reserve an hour and a half in case you want to stay for the Q&A at the end).
“The surprising reason you can’t stick to a budget (and how to fix it for good).” You can reserve your free seat for that here…