… into the future. If you don’t recognize that tidbit, do yourself a favor and get on the Google.
But to the matter at hand. It’s that time. It’s Time to talk about the T in our SMART goal setting process, which is the time aspect of our goal setting.
There are really two aspects when it comes to time and goal setting. One is how much time it will take me to complete my goal, and when is the time to start (and finish). This is where it all comes together. We talked about relevance, and how that’s important, especially when we realize that there is a time aspect to relevance as well.
One of the things I need to decide when setting my goals is if a goal is short term, medium term or long term. In other words, how long will it take me to complete my goal? Short term goals are 6 -18 months usually. Medium term is between 1-5 years, long term is out more than 5 years. An example of a short term goal might be something like planning a vacation, or saving up for a set of tires. Medium term could be setting up an emergency fund or buying piece of furniture. A long term goal would be something like saving for a child’s education, a big trip or something that is years in the making.
So just like when we were talking about measuring, a big part of the time aspect is getting down to the details. Especially with long term goals, it seems like we have forever to work on it, but before long, time has slipped away and the moment is at hand. Saving for college might not seem relevant when they are in diapers and it feels like it can wait. But you turn around and pretty soon they’re 14 years old and headed to high school and there are only a few years left to build it up! (Not to mention, it might have been a good idea to have a medium term goal of getting a used car for that teenager.)
Sometimes it works to go backwards. Back when I had a big dining room table and I would make Thanksgiving dinner, I would go backwards from meal time and that would tell me when each thing needed to be done and in or out of the oven. So figure out when you want your goal completed and work back from there. Let’s stick with the college example. Most kids go to college when they are 18, which divided out is 216 months. Doesn’t seem like quite so long now, does it? Let’s say I want $20,000 in their college fund by the time they start. If I start saving $100/month when they are a baby, I’ll have at least $20,000 saved up (plus interest!). If I wait to start, that monthly contribution is going to be much higher.
So get out the calendar, and start planning. When do I want my emergency fund in place? When will I need brakes for the car? When will we want to travel? As always, prioritize and reassess as you work through each step. Before long, time will be on your side. (Sorry, Mick)
Do you want some support in setting up your budget goals? The counselors in the Center for Financial Resources can help. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at 1-888-258-2227 or by visiting our website at www.lsssd.org.
Written by Sylvia Selgestad, Financial Counselor and Educator
LSS Center for Financial Resources
Consumer Credit Counseling Service | Housing Resources | Sharpen Your Financial Focus| Financial Fitness Education
705 East 41st Street, Suite 100 |Sioux Falls SD 57105-6047
605-330-2700 or 888-258-2227
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