How To Set Short Term Financial Goals (for 2023)

Whether you’re saving up for that first apartment payment or just trying to get rid of some debt, setting short term financial goals is a skill you need to learn. In this post I’ll run through two tried and tested methods of goal-setting and then offer some quick and dirty tips so you can start setting goals right now.

Setting short term financial goals can be done two ways:

Concurrent saving: Saving for more than one goal at once.

In sequential order: Save for one financial goal at a time.

Both methods have pros and cons. What’s the best method for you?

Sequential goal-setting


It is possible to focus intensely on one goal at a time and feel fulfilled when each goal has been completed. The process of setting up and managing one-goal savings is also more straightforward than one-goal savings for multiple goals. Only one account needs to be created and managed.

The cons

Compound interest doesn’t work retroactively. Taking 10 years to save for a long-term goal (e.g., funding a retirement plan) means you’re not earning interest.

Concurrent goal-setting


Savings for financial goals later in life do not lose compound interest. Saving money early will allow it to grow for a longer period of time.

The Cons

The process of funding multiple short term financial goals is more challenging than funding one goal at a time. Each goal requires separate income and often separate accounts. Due to the multiple locations where savings are being placed, it may take longer to complete any one goal.

Steps to take

1. Plan your finances concurrently

Don’t complete short term financial goals one by one. Concurrent goal-setting takes advantage of compound interest and prevents having the completion date for one goal determine the start date for others.

2. Take positive financial action

Take action to improve your personal finances by doing whatever you can to make it better. Think about increasing your savings to 4 percent or 5 percent if you are already saving 3 percent in a SEP-IRA (when self-employed) or 401(k) or 403(b).

3. Get rid of bad habits with money

Get rid of (or at least reduce) cost-inefficient actions. Each person has their own culprit. Considerations include cost savings, health impacts, and personal enjoyment.

The 4 stages of financial goal-setting (quick and dirty method)

With savings and other areas, it’s important to follow a clear path towards setting goals. Look at the 4 stages below.

1. Write them down.

Write down your goals. Stick them in your car, on your desk, or on the mirror in your bathroom. Make a screenshot, put it as your wallpaper, and use your phone to type them. You will stay focused if you can see your goals.

2. Provide specifics.

Make sure your goals are specific. Focus on one area, such as debt, and clearly outline how much of that debt you want to pay off.

3. Measuring them is key.

Let’s say you wish to pay off your debt. The next step is to choose an amount you can measure to determine if you have achieved your goal. After reviewing your budget and your debt, you decide to pay $25,000 toward your debt. That is a measurable objective.

4. Set a deadline for yourself.

Just like athletes do, set a deadline for any short term financial goals such as paying off debt or building savings. This makes you accountable and also ensures that you feel like you have a clear objective ahead.

Do you have any short term financial goals for the upcoming year? Try this amazing budget planner. I have used one of these for years and this one in particular has proved to be invaluable. Yes, I’m an affiliate, but I only ever recommend stuff I use myself.

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Sal Ashraf

I'm a freelance writer. This site is all about getting more business, and keeping that business, whether you're a solo entrepreneur, or a large company.

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