8 SMART Financial Goals to Set in 2018

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Happy New Year! With a new year, comes a chance to set new goals and resolutions to achieve.  The best way to achieve your desires is to set SMART goals.  SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  Today, we are going to be reviewing 8 SMART Financial Goals to set in 2018.

The SMART methodology can be used for any goal that you wish to set – not just for your financial goals.  For example, if your goal for 2018 is to lose more weight you could make that a SMART goal by saying the amount of weight you want to lose each month and what you will do to achieve the goal.  Another example would be a goal of reading more books this year.  Turning that goal into a SMART goal would be saying that you are going to read one book each month all year.

Now that you know exactly what SMART goals are and how to set them, check out these 8 SMART Financial Goals to Set in 2018.

8 SMART Financial Goals to set in 2018

Earn More Money

Who wouldn’t want to earn more money in 2017?  By simply earning more money, it can allow you to achieve so many other goals.  There are many ways to earn more money.

  • Focus on a promotion at your full-time gig
  • Grab a part-time gig for your free time
  • Start a side hustle (like freelance writing, driving for uber, etc…)

To turn this into a SMART financial goal, be deliberate about how much extra money you would like to make each month and how you plan to do it.  Instead of just saying you want to earn more money in 2017, say you would like to earn $1000 each month through freelance writing and affiliate income.  After the specific goal is set, you can work on how you will achieve that goal.

One of my favorite ways to earn extra money with doing minimal work is through surveys.  First of all, they are free.  Secondly, it typically doesn’t take much time to complete the surveys.  I started to take surveys through the following two sites:

  • American Consumer Opinion
  • Swagbucks

I found out about the companies from another financial blogger who I trust.  The best part is that both companies are totally legit and have been around for a while.  Click here to sign up and start earning money by taking surveys with American Consumer Opinion and click here to sign up with Swagbucks.  Plus, Swagbucks will give you $5 just for signing up.  What are you waiting for?!?  You could be earning extra money while you are sitting on your couch.

Related: 10 Unique Ways to Make $250 This Month

 

Spend Less Money

In order to turn spending less money into one of your SMART financial goals, it is time to look at your spending from the previous year.  This step will be easy if you used a budgeting app like Mint.com in the previous year.  Look at each of the categories of spending in your budget to determine what areas can be reduced or cut out completely.  Discretionary spending like eating out and shopping are typically the two categories that are the easiest to cut.

Even if you don’t use a budgeting app, it is time to have a heart to heart with yourself.  I know, sound’s crazy right? However, it can work.  Most of us know what our weakness is.  It is up to us to decide whether to get that under control.  Eating out at restaurants tends to get me in trouble.  For you, it may be spending your money shopping.  For others, it may be a bad habit of ordering random items on Amazon.

Once you figure out what your weakness is you can truly start to change your spending habits.  At that point, you can determine which categories you are going to reduce.  In addition, you can determine the actual amount that you can cut.  Also, be realistic when setting that amount and determining if the reduction will be gradual or more sudden.

Related: 10 Items You Should Slash from your Budget

 

Pay Down Debt

After the holidays, paying down debt is a goal for many people like my friend MJ who paid off 39k on a teachers salary.  And Ebony Horton who paid of $220k off of debt in just 3 years.  Besides the fact that debt literally costs you money each month while the interest is accumulating, it can also limit your extra income to use towards saving or traveling.  In addition, your debt may be stopping you from achieving other goals like purchasing your first home.

In order to turn debt repayment into a SMART financial goal, be specific about how much debt you want to and realistically can pay off each month.  Instead of saying you want to pay off your car loan in 2017, make your goal specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timebound.  Therefore, your goal can be to pay off your car loan by September 2018 by making an additional $500 to the monthly payment every month.

After you have reviewed your budget, you should be able to set a realistic goal.  Your budget ultimately will tell you how much additional money you will have to pay down debt.  Also, take conscious steps to put any additional income towards your existing debt like your tax refund or bonus from work. Head back up to goal #1 of earning more money for suggestions of how to earn extra money to pay down debt.

Related: 8 Strategies to Pay Off Debt Fast

 

Improve your Credit Score

Improving your credit score can literally improve so many other areas of your life.  If you are looking to purchase a new car or buy your first house, it is imperative that you have a good credit score.

For example, if you have a poor credit score banks and loan companies will charge you a higher interest rate.  Although it may seem like it isn’t a big deal, the same car payment for someone with a good credit score may be $300 but someone with a poor credit score may be $500.

If you aren’t sure where your credit score stands, then you need to head to Credit Sesame as soon as possible. Credit Sesame is a free website that provides a copy of your Transunion credit report and credit score.  In addition, Credit Sesame provides customized tips based on your credit profile to show you how to raise your credit score.  Click here to try Credit Sesame for yourself.

Related: 6 Surefire Ways to Increase Your Credit Score

 

Save More Money

Saving money is a large money goal that can help you accomplish many other things like buying your first house, purchasing a new car or even having additional money to invest.  I know quite a few people that are saving money in order to fully fund their emergency funds so that they can make a career change.  Whatever your reason is, saving more money this year is a great SMART money goal to set.

In order to make saving a SMART financial goal, start by taking a look at your budget.  How much can you afford to save each month?  Then, put that saving goal into auto drive by automatically transferring money each month to your saving account.  Another option to put your saving into auto drive is to use an app like Qapital which automatically saves money for you.  Qapital is a completely free app that allows you to round up your spare change or transfer a specified amount in a savings account for you.  Click here to try Qapital for yourself and if you use my link $5 will automatically be added to you!

When setting the smart financial goal of saving more money it is important to ensure the goal is specific.  For example, instead of just saying that you are going to save more money in 2018.  You should say that you plan to save $6000 during 2018 but setting aside $500 each month.  That way you can check on your progress as the year goes on.

Related: 4 Best Apps to Automate Saving

 

Save for Retirement

It is estimated that millennials will need 1.8 million dollars when they retire!  Yes, you read that right, 1.8 million!  Therefore, saving for retirement is essential to ensure a comfortable and successful retirement.  Starting to save for retirement or increasing the amount that you are saving for retirement is a SMART financial goal to set for this year.

If you currently are not contributing to your retirement savings, start small.  In the event your company offers a 401k plan, find out if they match any contributions.  If the company does match contributions, contribute at least up to the match.  By contributing up to the match amount, you are not leaving any free money on the table.  If your company doesn’t offer a 401k plan or you work as a freelancer, start a traditional or Roth IRA.  In 2018, the maximum amount that can be contributed to an IRA if you are under the age is 50 is the lesser of 100% of compensation or $5500.

If you already have been saving for retirement, increasing your retirement savings may be a good smart financial goal for you to set.  Personally, when I receive a raise at work I always increase the contributions to my retirement account.  I figure, I was meeting my financial responsibilities without the raise, so instead of spending the additional money I have a percentage of it go straight to my 401k account.

Related: 4 Things Millennials Need to do Now for Retirement

 

Invest in Life Insurance

Life insurance protects anyone that depends on your income to survive.  In the event of death or terminal illness, life insurance provides money that assists with the sudden loss of income.  Although life insurance is most popularly known to pay for funeral expenses, it is so much more than that.

There are two main types of life insurance: term and whole life.

Many millennials think they don’t need life insurance yet or that their life insurance policy at work is sufficient.  Anyone that has someone that depends on them needs life insurance.  Although I currently don’t have any dependents, life insurance is much cheaper to get now than when you get older.  In addition, the life insurance policy that you receive at work is typically for a fairly low amount and the coverage is only good while you’re employed by the company.

In order to make investing in life insurance, a SMART financial goal set a timeframe for when you want to get life insurance.  I decided to invest in life insurance last year and decided to start my policy prior to my birthday.  When you sit down with an insurance agent he or she can explain to you the difference in term and whole life insurance and help you determine which option work best for you.

Start Investing

Investing is the ultimate way to create wealth. I know so many millennials who want to start investing which is an awesome SMART financial goal to set.  There are so many myths that you have to have a bunch of money to start investing but there are quite a few apps that will allow you to start investing with less than $100!

If you want to make investing one of your SMART financial goals, commit to investing a specific dollar amount within a specified timeframe.  For example, your goal could be to invest $250 each month for the first 6 months of the year into a taxable account.  If you aren’t ready to invest that much money each month, you could even start out by investing $50 each month into a taxable account.

If you are looking to start investing now, try Acorns.  I have been using Acorns for almost 2 years and it makes investing super easy for anyone.  Acorns automatically invests your spare change for you into ETFs (exchange-traded funds).  An ETF is a mix of stock and bonds similar to a mutual fund but that trades throughout the day.  Acorns will even help you pick an ETF based on your time horizon and risk tolerance which makes it super easy to get started.  Click here to try Acorns now.  Plus, if you use my link, $5 will automatically be invested for you.

Related: 3 Apps to Start Investing with $5 or Less

 

Travel More Often

Traveling more often is a popular goal when a new year starts.  Although many don’t think of traveling as a smart money goal, it actually is!  It takes money in order to travel!

In order to turn traveling into a SMART financial goal, set specific trips you’d like to take, the budget for each trip and the dates for each trip.  Once you have outlined those three details, then you can work on regularly saving money for the trip(s).

Automating your saving is an easy way to earmark additional money for travel.  There are many different ways to automate your saving. You can start by automatically transferring money from your checking to savings account each month.  Another option is to use an app like Digit which automatically saves money for you.  Click here to try Digit for yourself and have $5 automatically added to your account.

Related: 4 Tips to Catch a Flight Deal

 

Overall, it is important to spring into action to complete your 2018 goals.  That means sitting down, listing your goals and figuring out the actual strategies that you will use to achieve those SMART financial goals.  You may enjoy these other posts:

 

What are your SMART financial goals for 2018?  Tell us about them in the comments!

 

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5 comments

  1. Sounds like some totally realistic goals that are achievable for almost anyone. How important are these? Very.
    I like to keep track of my progress, it;s almost become an obsession of mine!

  2. Great article! These are 8 Goals of mine this year to improve upon and continue to increase my knowledge about becoming financially fit! Thanks!

  3. Didn’t expect to see travel up on the list, that one caught me by surprise. All the items are on my list as well though. Main goal this year is to make the savings account more robust, I will have to keep thinking about traveling lol

  4. My goals for 2018 involve preparing for my wife to give birth to our first child. Right now, most of the preparation is money-related. For instance, I’m putting a bunch of money into my HSA for the cost of delivery (which will be $2,000 – $3,000!). Plus I’m researching daycare costs and how to start a 529.

    Aside from money, I need to learn how to be a dad and how to take care of a baby… And apparently how to never sleep lol.

  5. Love these ideas! Saving and investing are both on my list! Plus, I do hope to travel more next year, mostly personal since this year was almost all about business.

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