How to Create SMART Financial Goals – Is It Time Bound?

We’re reaching the end of our SMART goals.  We’ve gone through making the goal specific, being able to measure it, making sure it’s attainable, and looking at how relevant it is.  Now we’ll ask if your goal is Time-Bound?

A good goal will be time-bound or timely.  It will have a starting point, an end point, and measurable time or milestones in-between.  Time adds dimension to specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant.

By making your goal time-bound you give yourself a framework to focus with.  Without deadlines for your goals, it’s easy to let your goals drift away and be put off for other things that may seem more pressing.  You need to know when your goal will end.  A finish point can be a big part of whether your goal was a success or not.

Time makes your goal more specific.  “I’ll eliminate this credit card debt in eight months.”  Time adds the “when” to your goal when you are flushing out the specifics.

Time makes your goal more measurable.  “I’ll put away X dollars every Friday then pay of N dollars extra on the 3rd of the month with my bill.”  Time tells you when aspects of your goal need to be done by.  It helps to keep you accountable as you measure your goal.

Time puts a bounds on the attainability of your goal.  Paying off your debt by next week is impractical while giving yourself ten years may be too much time.  Too little time and you may be putting too much stress on yourself while too much time may not have enough of an effect.  It needs to get done in a specific time to make it a real attainable goal.

Time helps answer if the goal is relevant.  Is the time needed the best use of my time?

Time is the final piece of the SMART goal strategy (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound).  In all, this can be an effective way to make sure the goals you set will be achieved.

Make your goals SMART and achieve all that you can!

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Published or updated December 11, 2014.


  1. For me, a combination of a “loose” time framework combined with an approximate dollar goal (I’ll save around $500 for a new bike within the next 6-8 months, for example) seems to work the best. I don’t beat myself up if I only have $430 after 9 months. I still have a chunk of savings for whatever goal I’m after, without feeling too much resentment at myself for not hitting the exact mark at the exact time.

    • But you still have a time frame which is important.

      Different goals require different variations and guidelines on what you want to achieve and how and you have to know yourself as well.

  2. I think this an important part of holding ourselves accountable. If your goal was save $100 by Friday, is $90 okay? That is up to you! If you needed $500 for your rent, is $490 okay? Probably not! If I wanted $5 million by the time I retire, is $4.9 okay? Probably yes! I agree with your answer to Matt.

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