4 Common Financial Goals \u2013 How to Make Them SMART & Be Successful by Carmen Chan When you\u2019re new to setting financial goals, you might want to see some specific examples. Here are 4 of the most common goals we hear and what to do to make them SMART. When your goals \u2013 financial or otherwise \u2013 are SMART, it\u2019s easier to achieve them. A goal that is specific becomes measurable. Once it\u2019s measurable, you can ensure it\u2019s attainable and realistic. And finally, when a goal is timely you give yourself enough time to achieve it, but you\u2019ve set a deadline to keep yourself on track and motivated. 1. If Your Goal is to Pay Off Debts Deciding that you want to pay off debts is too broad so you\u2019ll have to narrow down how much debt you want to tackle. If you have six cards, for example, you could isolate two and vow to wipe out the debts on both balances by 2022. Or you could tally up your total debts and decide to pay off a percentage by the end of the year. Some debts could be higher in interest, so you may want to tackle them first. Your other option is to consolidate your debts through a balance transfer onto a single credit card, onto a line of credit or debt consolidation loan, or through a debt repayment plan arranged through the Credit Counselling Society. In all instances, your debts will merge into a single sum and you\u2019ll only have to make one payment. Once you\u2019ve decided how you\u2019ll attack your debts for the year, and that your payments fit into your budget, automate your payments. What to Watch Out for with Debt Consolidation 2. If Your Goal is to Save Money You could be vying for a trip to Hawaii or building an emergency fund. (There are lots of great reasons why you should have goals to save money.) Either way, you\u2019ll need to decide how much you want to set your goal at and when you plan on crossing the finish line. Once you have these two pieces in hand, divide the goal amount by the timeframe you\u2019ve set for yourself. A $12,000 emergency fund by January 2021 would mean you\u2019re aiming to save $1,000 each month, for example. Double check that this goal fits within your budget\u2019s constraints, then automate the savings so you don\u2019t end up spending this money in your account. Out of sight, out of mind is a great tactic \u2013 if you pay yourself first when payday rolls around, you\u2019ll get used to not having that money around. If the goal seems too lofty, decrease the amount or increase the timeline. Start by setting yourself up for success. You can always challenge yourself after 3 months of achieving your goal if you find that it\u2019s too easy. Ways to Save Money Everyone Can Do 3. If Your Goal is to Improve Your Credit Rating If you know your credit has taken a beating and you need to improve your score, you need to zero in on why you need it to shape up and how to get there. It\u2019s a good idea to request your own credit reports from TransUnion and Equifax for free each year to check for accuracy. Say, you\u2019re hoping to replace your car in October, so you need to qualify for an auto loan, or you\u2019ll be mortgage shopping by the Spring, but you have a history of missed payments and a maxed-out credit card. You need to outline concrete actions that\u2019ll help you prop up your score within your designated timeframe: commit to making regular payments on your accounts, automate payments so you don\u2019t miss due dates, or contribute hefty payments so your utilization ratio will be tamed, as examples. But it takes time and good credit behaviour to repair a credit rating so don\u2019t fall for an offer to skip the line. 4. If Your Goal is to Learn How to Budget Your Money Learning how to budget your money and track your spending are great habits to get into - but if you\u2019re like many people, you don\u2019t know where to start. Set a resolution such as, \u201cI want to set a budget every month and track my spending\u201d but make it a tangible goal by setting appointments in your calendar to sit down with yourself, log your income and your expenses, and build out a budget for the month ahead. If you don\u2019t specifically earmark time for the task, it won\u2019t get done. If you\u2019re not sure how to allocate your money, here\u2019s an interactive budget calculator that will help you get it done When it comes to your tracking, set a daily alarm on your phone to remind yourself to jot down your expenses for the day. There are financial apps that can help, for example by logging your debit transactions in real time or importing your banking records into a spreadsheet. Being organized with your money and finances matters, so find a system that works for you. When It Comes to Achieving Success with Financial Goals Setting and achieving success with financial goals is a great way to start any new year or turn over a fresh leaf at any point in the year. If you need help, don\u2019t be afraid to reach out to us for tangible help, guidance, or affirmation that you\u2019ve got this. Change can be hard; go easy on yourself as you learn new money management skills and trade old habits in for new ones. The way you prepare yourself for success matters, and the date you choose to make your changes should be when the time is right for you. There are 365 first days in a year \u2013 pick the date that\u2019s best for you!