I remember when I first decided to get my money life in order. I knew setting goals was important – and if I hadn’t, every piece of advice screams GOALS! at you. But what goals to set?
If you’re just starting out, it’s probably not so clear. You’re new for a reason and could use some ideas!
It would have been so useful to have some financial goal examples for ideas or to help me think through my own situation. Instead, I stumbled around reading and consuming lots of financial information and evolving my own goals over a number of years.
I want to save you some of that effort.
So I’ve compiled this list of financial goal examples to help you out. Whether you’re just starting out, or transitioning to a new financial phase, I hope this list helps you find great goals.
Table of contents
Setting Good Personal Financial Goals
I’ve written an entire post about setting effective financial goals. (It even includes a free template!) I won’t repeat it all here, but here’s a quick overview of some key components. It also explains why I’ve formatted the financial goal examples into three time frames.
All goals should include a specific outcome that you can measure to determine your progress. I personally think the SMART format is overdone, but this resource will help you learn more if you’re interested.
Just don’t get tied up in setting the perfect goal. Good goals will evolve and change. That’s the essence of solid decision-making.
You’ll make the best progress when you set several types of goals depending on the action and timeframe with which you plan to achieve each goal.
It’s important to set long term goals that are your dreams/aspirations. These goals usually span 3+ years and can sometimes take decades. These are your motivation, but they won’t get you there on their own.
Medium term goals help you improve your numbers over time on the way to your long term goals. I think of these goals as anything 3 months or longer.
Short term goals can help you celebrate small wins, acquire new knowledge, or build effective habits. These can be as short as a week. I typically set my short term goals in monthly or quarterly (3 month) increments.
The time frame for a goal will vary depending on your financial situation. For example, “Paying off all credit card debt” may take a month for one person but be a 5-year process for someone else who is deep in debt with limited income. I’ve placed the example goals in the time frame that seems most reasonable to me, but your situation may warrant a different time.
These are examples, not rules! I’ve pulled them from real goals I’ve set, discussed with others, or seen in financial goal content around the internet.
Take what works for you. Ignore or adjust anything that doesn’t.
Long Term Financial Goal Examples
- Eliminate all credit card debt ($35,000) in three years
- Save a 20% downpayment for a house by the time I’m 26
- Eliminate $175,000 in student loan debt in 5 years
- Double my salary in 5 years
- Be mortgage free in 7 years
- Save two years of expenses to fund a career change
- Own 12 rental units before I’m 40
- Increase my annual 403b contributions by $2000 until I reach the annual contribution limit (in 7 years)
- Save 12 months of expenses in an emergency fund (Yes, this can take several years for many people. That’s okay!)
- Save $500,000 in my 401k by retirement
- Invest $100,000 in 529 accounts for my child’s college
- Start a scholarship foundation with $500,000 in endowment
- Achieve a positive net worth
- Reach financial independence (Have 25x my yearly expenses invested in __________)
- Achieve a net worth of $1.5 million dollars
- Retire at age 43
Medium Term Financial Goal Examples
- Pay off and eliminate my highest interest debt (Credit card #3 – Balance $3700)
- Save $1000 in an emergency fund
- Invest the full contribution limit in my 457b plan
- Pay an extra $5000 on my mortgage by the end of the year
- Track my spending in 3 major categories (housing, food, transportation) for a full year
- Reduce my monthly expenses by 25%
- Have 30 no spend days in the next quarter
- Invest $30,000 in a taxable brokerage in the next 18 months
- Use credit card bonuses to acquire 250,000 ultimate reward points in the next two years
- Invest enough to receive the full employer match in my 401k this year
- Use new funds to shift my investment allocation to 75% stocks / 25% bonds
- Create an equity glide path before retiring in 2 years
- Find and purchase my first rental property
- Turn a profit with my business by the end of the year
- Achieve a savings rate of 25% this year
- Raise my credit score by 50 points this year
- Increase my savings by $100 each month ($1200/month by end of year)
Short Term Financial Goal Examples
Effective short term financial goals can be specific metrics or actions you’ll take to improve your financial health. I consider learning goals to be short term financial goals as well.
No goal is too small or short term if it moves you forward.
- Calculate my net worth for the first time
- Pay an additional $100 on my credit card debt
- Create an emergency fund – put $50 a month in it (for now)
- Gather and list all of my debts including balance and interest rate – then rank
- Start a sinking fund to pay for Christmas
- Open a credit card with a reward bonus
- Work 10 hours of overtime this month
- Start and fund an HSA
- Read 3 books about investing
- Apply for 5 jobs
- Open an online bank account and earn the $100 bonus
- Set up withdrawals to my 457b account (with my payroll office)
- Review my options and decide between contributing to my 403b vs 457b
- Eliminate my car payment by trading in my newer car for a used car equal to the stored value
- Take lunch to work 3x a week (Save $100 / month on meal costs)
- Open a brokerage account and fund a Roth IRA with $250 this month
- Sell 5 items I’m not using this month
- Reduce subscription costs by $35
- Create a monthly budget
I hope you find these financial goal examples useful! Let me know if you have any other good examples in the comments below. I’ll keep adding and updating this list.
Don’t get too bogged down in setting the “right” goal. Instead, set one and change or adjust as you go forward. Remember, progress not perfection!