A strong foundation to any financial plan includes goals. Your goals are unique to you, and you can prioritize them in a variety of ways. The best way to make your goals a reality is to assess your needs and resources and make a plan that works with your spending priorities and other financial responsibilities.
The first step in setting your goals is to identify what your values are which, in turn, can help you identify your needs and wants. Every person is different regarding what their needs and wants are which can change over time.
Assessing the resources that you have to cover your needs as well as your wants can also help you get a broader picture of how to turn your dreams into reality.
Resources could include your income obviously, but it could also include community resources, employment or government benefits, and more. You can learn more about assessing resources in our Spooked by Spending Plans webinar recording or Moodle course.
Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Once you've identified your priorities and assessed your resources, you can more easily set S.M.A.R.T. financial goals. There are many ways to think about the S.M.A.R.T. acronym as a framework for goal-setting, but these are the terms we typically use:
Specific: The more specific your goal, the easier it is to visualize which makes you more likely to achieve it.
- Measurable: Can you quantify your goal in a way that allows you to track progress towards it? This might be subtasks to complete or a specific number to save/repay each month.
- Agreed Upon: Most people rely on others to help them accomplish goals. If you rely on a cosigner, does your cosigner agree? If it's a trip, do you agree on destination?
- Realistic: Given your current income, resources, and time, is this a realistic goal? Where might you need to compromise in order to make it realistic?
- Timely: By what date do you want to have your goal accomplished? You can always re-evaluate your time frame later, but having a realistic target date helps keep you on track.
If you've set a goal in the past and haven't achieved it, take this opportunity to refocus your goal and make a commitment to yourself by setting a goal at universityillinoissaves.org.