Setting SMART Financial Goals for 2021

January 4, 2021

Text: Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely.  Colorful illustration of the word Smart.Chanchai -


Have you heard of SMART goals? SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound.  Setting SMART goals may help you develop specific plans towards reaching your financial objectives, such as paying off debt, saving for retirement, building an emergency fund, or other specific purposes, like saving for a vacation, college tuition, or buying a house.

So how do you set a SMART goal? 

Start with Specifics

Define your specific goal. Let’s use the example of an emergency fund. How much do you want to save for an emergency and by when? It’s okay to estimate and make a revision later if needed.

Set Measurable Goals

When you set a specific goal, it becomes easier to track. For example, if you intend to save $3,000 in one year, you can measure progress by dollar amount and date. You know you will need to save $250 a month on average, or $1,500 at the six-month mark, to reach a year-end savings mark of $3,000.

Make Sure Your Goals Are Attainable

Ask yourself how you will stay on track to achieve the goal. Do you have the resources to attain the goal? Goals should be agreed upon if you are sharing them with a spouse, partner or family member.

Realistic (and Relevant) Goals are Critical

Realistic and relevant goals are easier to achieve. Big financial objectives may need to be broken down into smaller ones. Goals must also be relevant - ask yourself how your near-term goal complements or contributes to your long-term vision.

Setting Deadlines for Goals

A timeline or clear end date helps you determine if you have achieved your goal and keeps you focused. As mentioned above, time bound goals also help you measure your progress.

Checking in on Goals

Once you have set SMART Goals, reviewing them regularly can help you stay on track. Have you made progress? Do you feel you can achieve the goal? Is it still relevant? Does the timeline feel realistic? Plan and adjust as needed in order to move forward.

Helpful Online Tools

There are online tools and calculators that can help you track your progress against financial goals. RSI Bank customers with personal Online Banking or Mobile Banking have access to Money Management, a suite of free personal financial tools.

Money Management can be used to set savings goals and debt pay off targets, and to track spending against budgets by category.  Free financial calculators are also available on our website.
The information provided in this article is meant for educational purposes only and is not advice.