If your goals for 2021 include money-centric items like building an emergency savings, paying off debt, or buying a home, laying the right foundation is key to accomplishing them.
Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
Using the S.M.A.R.T. method can give you a clear path to follow for getting ahead financially and achieving the goals that you’ve set for yourself.
For example, say one of your big goals is paying off your student loans. To make your goal S.M.A.R.T., it needs to be:
- Specific. Calculate exactly how much student loan debt you have to pay off and what strategies you’ll use to do it. For example, you might be interested in refinancing your loans to get a better interest rate and lower your payments.
- Measurable. Decide how you’ll measure and track your progress. For instance, you might set a secondary goal of paying down a certain amount of your loan principal each month
- Actionable. Identify the action steps you need to take to reach your goal. That might mean rounding up your student loan statements, applying for refinancing, or setting up auto-payments if you haven’t done that yet.
- Realistic. Evaluate your budget to make sure that you can pay off your student loans at the pace you’re aiming for.
- Time-bound. Set a time frame for reaching your goal, such as paying off $15,000 by the end of the year. Use that time frame as a guideline for deciding how much to pay toward your loans monthly.
Check in with your goals often to make sure you’re staying on track. It can take a few weeks or sometimes even a few months to create the habits that will help you achieve your goals, but if you can stick with them, the result can be a healthier financial situation by year’s end.
Fulton Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.