Setting SMART Goals for 2012

With the new year approaching, I wanted to set some financial goals for our family.  Of course, I wanted to include my husband’s thoughts and so  I asked him what he hoped to accomplish financially in 2012.  He replied that hoped that we’d make it through another PCS.  Admirable, but not a specific as I like.  I am more of a SMART goals sort of girl.  Never heard of SMART goals?  There are a number of variations on the theme, but basically the letters stand for characteristics of a good goal.  For example:

S can stand for specific, simple, significant, stretching

M can stand for measurable, meaningful, motivational, manageable

A can stand for agreed upon, attainable, achievable, action-oriented, appropriate

R can stand for realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T can stand for time-based, timely, tangible, trackable

Now, SMART goals may be smart, but they sure as heck aren’t simple to create.  Take, for example, my husband’s desire to be prepared for a PCS move.  How do you break this down?

S is for specific.  Oh, goodness, I don’t even know where to begin.  We’ll be in temporary lodging for a bit, so we need to have money to cover those expenses until we are reimbursed.  We’ll have to leave my husband’s car here and purchase him a new or new-to-us vehicle at our new location.  And then there is the housing situation?  Will we want to buy a house?  Will we need a washer and dryer?  I am feeling remarkably unspecific.  Must think more.

M is going to be for motivational, I think.  I’m likely to automatically make it measurable, so let’s try to put a little enthusiasm behind this.  I’m going to start looking at cars and thinking about housing situations.  Or make a chart.  I love charts.  I’m going to come up with an amount of money that I think we’ll need before we move.  Then I’ll decide whether it is manageable – another M!

A will, of course, be agreed upon, but it is also going to be action-oriented.  I’m going to figure out how we’ll save this money by listing specific actions that we will take.

R is going to be realistic, relevant and rewarding.  Obviously, if we’re moving, the saving will be relevant.  I think we covered realistic during M is for manageable.  And rewarding?  Oh, yeah.  It will be super-duper rewarding to have money saved before we run into these expenses.  Just the thought of making purchases with cash makes me all excited inside.

T is easier – to be prepared before we move.  Of course, we don’t have any idea when that might actually be, but I figure I should be prepared for May.  That’s only five months away, so we don’t have room to fool around.

So, now that I have this goal:  to save X amount of dollars before 1 May.  The X will be determined by figuring out our needs and seeing how much we can reasonably set aside in the next four months.  Then I’m going to build a budget that makes that savings happen, with specific actions to decrease our expenses in key areas like food and fuel.

And I’m going to make a chart.

So, there you have it.  My SMART goals for the next couple of months.  Time to get moving!

What sort of financial goals do you have for 2012?  I’d love to hear and cheer you along.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.