How to Create SMART Financial Goals – Make Them Measurable

When we last talked about goals I told you that you should make your goals S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) to help you in achieving them. We discussed making a goal Specific so that you have one concrete goal to shoot for and you know exactly what you want to accomplish rather than a big general category that’s hard to finish.

Today let’s talk about the next step – making your SMART financial goal Measurable.

You need to make a goal measurable, you need to know exactly how much you are going to achieve.  Without a way to measure your goal, how can you track your financial progress?  How will you know if you are making headway towards the financial goal?

Think, for example, about a goal of running a marathon.  You know the end distance but how do you know you are progressing week to week?  I’ll tell you.  You keep a log of exactly how many miles you run every week and what type of running you are doing (distance runs, sprint runs, etc…).  You also build a plan before-hand that tells you how many miles you need to shoot for every week.  In this way you can measure your progress and you can tell how close you are to achieving your end goal of running a marathon.

Let’s talk about a goal of eliminating credit card debt. You have made your financial goal specific and you are going to attack one particular card and pay off the debt.

How do you measure it? Do you just “put a little extra in every month when I have it?”  Let me tell you that won’t work very well.  You need to be specific (remember to first rule?) and you need to be able to measure it.

A better way to go about eliminating your credit card debt is to figure out exactly how much extra you can pay every month towards your debt.  Now you have a concrete figure.  You know you need this amount every month.  You can now work on ways to make sure you save this much to pay off your debt.

This also breaks your goal of paying off your credit card debt into smaller goals that you can attain on a measurable frame. Now you aren’t paying off all of your credit card debt, you are paying off a specific, measurable amount every month.

As you look at your goals, make sure you can make them measurable so you can tell what you are actually doing and achieving (or what you need to do to get there).

In the next part of this series we’ll discuss your goals being Attainable.

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Published or updated April 3, 2013.

Comments

  1. Good ideas! Last year, I talked to my mortgage holder to determine exactly how much to add to my payment to pay it off date certain. For an extra $100 per month I took a year off of a 15 year mortgage.

    • I love that! By knowing a specific, measurable amount to go after you can take a measurable result off your mortgage.

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