How to Set Financial Goals That Actually Work (With Smart Financial Goals Examples)

Want to learn how to set smart financial goals you can actually achieve?

Whether your financial goals are little or large, learn how to set financials along with smart financial goals examples to help you get started.

Setting financial goals with smart financial goals examples

If you’ve ever tried setting financial goals, you’ll know how challenging it can be to set financial goals, stick to your plan and achieve them.

Setting a big financial goal can feel intimidating and these thoughts will probably cross your mind:

  • “I’ll never achieve this financial goal.”
  • “Is this financial goal even possible?”
  • “What if I can’t commit to this financial goal?”

I feel your pain.

When I decided to pay off a scary £32k debt, I felt stressed and tensed at such a daunting prospect. I lacked confidence in my own ability, assuming I would eventually fail to follow through.

Determined to achieve my goal and break free from the shackles of debt, I pushed through my fears and doubts. The alternative, falling deeper into debt, was no longer an option I was willing to accept.

At that time, I wasn’t very financially savvy and struggled with budgeting. My first step was to create a realistic budget to set me up for financial success and focus on sticking to it.

So, I worked diligently on creating and sticking to my budget, as it was necessary to reach my ultimate goal!

One thing became pretty clear very quickly: I was progressing very slowly. I was so frustrated with budgeting at the beginning that I almost gave up.

However, it wasn’t until I started setting specific financial goals and tracking them that I realised how far I had come, and it proved to be all the motivation I needed to keep pushing forward and know that I was headed in the right direction!

I learned a lot during that period, and I want to show YOU exactly how to set financial goals you can actually achieve, as well as smart financial goals examples so you can start turning your financial dreams into reality.

What Are Financial Goals?

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Financial goals are those things you want to be, do and have that cost money. Financial goals focus on “what” … what you need and/or what you want.

Setting financial goals creates a roadmap to success by organising the energy and resources at your disposal. Sometimes, our goals can be so big that without careful planning it can be impossible to achieve them.

Many rich people create plans to achieve their goals. For example, Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, credited her success to setting goals, and tracking her progress.

What Are the Benefits of Setting Financial Goals?

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Why is financial goal setting important? If you have ever asked yourself this question, let’s consider some of the possible reasons.

The benefits of financial goal setting are numerous. Financial goal setting provides direction, focus, motivation and can help you do more in less time.

#1: Financial goal setting helps you measure your progress.

Financial goals give you something concrete to work towards. Without them, it can be hard to accurately judge your progress.

You may be diligent at budgeting, finding bargains and paying bills on time, but without financial goals you’ll struggle to grow your wealth or prepare for retirement.

For example, I once met a lady who diligently paid all her bills on time, was great at finding bargains and brilliant at budgeting her day-to-day finances.

However, she has completely lost sight of the bigger picture of growing wealth or preparing for retirement.

Honestly, I was part of that trend a few years back, this is generally called “the female financial paradox.”

Like millions of other women, I was making more money, I was perfectly happy to pinch pennies and hunt down sales, yet I couldn’t muster the slightest interest in big-picture financial planning such as investing, retirement and estate planning.

And this is what happens in the absence of a financial goal.

The chances are that you’ll just drift through life thinking you’re doing all the right things, only to find that, one day, you wake up and realise that what you’ve been doing all along just wasn’t enough.

#2: Setting financial goals help you stay focused.

One of the most vital rewards of setting financial goals is that it helps you stay focused and motivated. They provide clarity about what you want to achieve financially in the near future.

Focus is key to achieving your financial goals.

Without goals, you can lose sight of the big picture, and casual impulse purchases can really add up and make it difficult to save for the future.  With a clear focus, you can:

  • Prioritise your expenses and spend your money on what matters most.
  • Make smart decisions about where you want your money to go.
  • Save and spend in alignment with your values, so your money is not wasted in the pursuit irrelevant everyday things that do not align with your values nor help you build wealth.

Most importantly, financial goal setting can help a realistic spending plan you can stick to.

The 3 Types of Financial Goals

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Financial goals can be grouped in 3 categories depending on how long it takes to achieve them.

Short-term financial goals

Short-term financial goals are goal you can achieve within a year. Short-term financial goal examples include saving a starter emergency fund, paying off small credit card debt or saving for a holiday.

Medium term financial goals

These are financial goals you can achieve within 5 years. Medium-term financial goal examples include saving a down payment for a house, paying off loans or starting your own business.

Long term financial goals

These are financial goals which take more than 5 years to achieve. Long-term financial goal examples include saving for retirement, financial freedom, saving for your children’s education or paying off your mortgage.

However, before you start setting financial goals, you need to take a step back and figure out what your personal values are.

What Are Personal Values?

What are personal values and what do they have to do with my personal finances?

Your values are those things that are important to you in life or those reasons why having money is important to you.

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Your personal values justify your spending.

Over the years, I’ve discovered for most women, having money is about having the lifestyle they want.

Think of your money as a form of energy that you direct towards things that are important to you. This could be financial freedom, security, giving back, taking care of loved ones or travelling, to name a few.

Only after defining what’s most important will, you be able set financial goals that are motivating and meaningful.

One of my favorite money quotes, and a good one to remember when it comes to determining your personal values is from Joe Biden:

Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”

Gloria Steinem puts it this way:

“We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.”

That’s an insightful statement, isn’t it?

Not many people will admit to valuing STUFF, but a quick look at their spending habits or lack of budget says it all.

In the past, like most people, I never thought about my values as it related to money. But once, I was able to identify what was truly important to me, my behaviour with money changed.

Clearly, your values affect the financial goals that you set and the decisions that you make to spend your time and money.

For example, you are generally more committed to saving money when you are saving for something that is important or meaningful to you.

Why Should I Identify My Personal Values?

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Your financial goals are simply an extension of your personal values. So, if something is important to you, set a goal and create an action plan to achieve it.

With your values at the front and center, it becomes easier to see how you can use your money to bring those values to life.

These are some of the benefits of knowing your values:

#1: Set the right financial goals.

Your values will help you set and prioritise your financial goals.

When you understand what is important to you, you can organise your money around accomplishing it as well as focus on how your spending, saving and investing can support those values.

#2: Keep you motivated

When your goals are centered on things that matter to you, it will motivate you to take action and find creative ways to overcome challenges.

You’ll be more likely to take that extra step, leave your comfort zone and stay committed when the going gets tough.

What Are Examples of Personal Values?

We all have values, but our values are all different. Here are some examples to help you determine yours.

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  • Experience/adventure: If you love travelling and having fun, one of your personal values is probably adventure/experience. You may want to allocate some money in your budget for travel and entertainment experiences such as hanging out with friends, holidays, concerts, plays, and admission fees.
  • Financial Security: If your ultimate goals is to build wealth for yourself and family, then financial security is one of your most important values.
  • Financial Freedom/independence: Driven by self-reliance or value your time more than anything else? Your personal value is having the financial freedom to quit work and become self-sufficient, through savings or investments.
  • Giving Back: Want to help the less privileged or protect the environment? One of your fundamental values is giving back or making a difference.
  • Success and personal development: If you are hardworking, love learning new things or taking courses, then career and personal development may be one of your core values.
  • Family/ Financial legacy: Always looking for ways to spend more time with your family and friends? Perhaps pass down wealth to your children? One of your personal values is perhaps family or financial legacy.
  • Empowerment: If you want to help others have, be and do more, then one of your values is empowerment.

Empowerment is one of my key values. Empowering women take control of their financial destiny and live their dreams is my passion.

So, what are YOUR personal values? What do you value most in life? Write them down!

Then ask yourself: do my finances reflect my personal values?

One thing to keep in mind is this: your personal values are unique. What may be important to you may not be important to me. Focus on what you want and what makes you happy.

How Do You Set Financial Goals You Can Achieve?

Setting a specific goal is the key to financial success, ambiguous goals are more likely to fail.

Mark Twain once said, “I can teach anybody how to get what they want in life. The problem is, I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they truly want.”

This was me a few years ago.

I would have these really vague, general ideas of things I wanted to accomplish, but never had a concrete goal I was working towards.

Maybe you feel that way.

Perhaps you don’t know what you want financially or maybe you’ve written some vague financial goals in the past but never stuck to them.

For example, many people set financial goals to save money, but they don’t always decide how much money they want to save and when they want to accomplish this goal.

What is a Specific Financial Goal?


A specific goal is practical and actionable. It tells you exactly what you want, shows you how you will achieve your goal and measure your progress.

There are two ways I learned to set specific financial goals.

1. The SMART W Method

SMART W is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific: Exactly what you want to do with your money.
  • Measurable: The exact amount it will cost.
  • Attainable: How you will achieve this goal.
  • Realistic: Balancing your budget and lifestyle to create an achievable goal.
  • Time Bound: A deadline when this goal must be achieved.
  • Write your goals down! Writing your goals down is a MUST.

It may sound trivial but there’s something about putting those ideas in your head on pen to paper that begins the mental journey of seriously working towards your goals.

Something magical happens when you write down your goals.

I have seen many of my clients transform their levels of financial success almost instantly just by having a clearly defined and written goals.

Moreover, when you write down your financial goals, they become real and they become yours instead of a vague idea that exist in your head.

Still not convinced?

Many studies have shown

  • People who write their goals down are more likely to achieve them
  • People who don’t write down goals are less likely to achieve them.

One study at Harvard Business School in 1979 showed that the graduates who had written goals and plans earned on average 10 times more than their peers.

This shows that we are more likely to achieve our financial goals if we write it down.

The irony is that 97% of adults are trying to achieve their financial goals without clear specific written goals.

This right here is the game changer – specific financial goal setting.

Smart Financial Goals Examples

When you set your financial goals, always use your personal values as the foundation. Let’s see some real smart financial goals examples using the SMART-W approach.

Smart Goal for Getting Out of Debt

If your personal value is financial security and you want to get out of debt. Here is a breakdown of your SMART W goal.

  • Goal: I want to get out of debt.
  • Specific: I want to pay off all my consumer debts except my house.
  • Measurable: I plan to pay off £10k of debt in 2 years.
  • Attainable: I plan to put £200 extra towards paying off my debt each month.
  • Realistic:  I have £200 a month but I usually spend that money on unnecessary items.
  • Time bound: I will pay off my debt in 2 years by X date.
  • Write it down: Today is X date, I am now debt free. I did this by putting £200 extra towards paying off my debt each month.
Smart Financial Goals Examples

Smart Goal for Financial Freedom

If your fundamental value is financial freedom, one of your goals might be to save £1,000,000.

A breakdown of your SMART goal would be as follows:

  • Goal: I want to become a millionaire.
  • Specific: I want to have an asset base of at least £1,000,000.
  • Measurable: I plan to double my net worth every year.
  • Attainable: I plan to grow my net worth by £5,000 this year.
  • Realistic:  It is realistic to grow my net worth by £5,000 this year by saving more, reducing my debts and/or buying an asset.
  • Time bound: I will become a millionaire in 9 years by X date.
  • Write it down: Today is X date, I am now a millionaire. I did this by doubling my net worth each year.

2. The I will (goal + performance measure) by (specific actions) approach

The performance measure is anything or criteria you can use to determine if you achieved your goal, it is usually a date or a length of time.

For example, if your goal is to save £3,000 within a year, your goal would be:

By X date, I will have £3,000 in my account by saving £250 each month using a standing order.

You can clearly see the goal is

  • Specific and measurable goal: I will save £3000.
  • Attainable, actionable, relevant and realistic: By saving £250 each month by using a standing order to transfer money to your savings account automatically. 
  • Time-bound: 12 months

Your Turn

Write down your financial goals using any of the smart financial goals examples above. Remember, a goal without a plan and a deadline is simply a dream.

Don’t write “I want to”, write “I will” to get your subconscious working to help you achieve your goal.

Get Help Setting Financial Goals You Can Achieve

Need help getting started?

I use all the principles above plus many more in my Financial Success Planner to help you stay motivated and achieve your financial goals.

If you need a little help getting started, the Financial Success Planner can point you in the right direction.

Achieving your financial goals and keeping you motivated for financial success is EXACTLY what the Financial Success Planner is all about.

It will help you create specific financial goals to stay focused and start getting the things you REALLY want out of life with your money.

People who use the planner are more focused on their financial goals and absolutely love it! 

But even better than achieving their goals is the feedback we get about how the planner changed their money habits.

If you’re ready to finally make your financial goals a priority, then the Financial Success Planner is for you.

Click here to check it out!

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