More For Your Money - University of Illinois Extension

Values and Goals


After you have decided what’s most important to you, set some goals.  Goals are what you hope and plan to achieve in the future. They are something to work for.  They are different than dreams or “New Year’s Resolutions.” 

Goals are based on your values.  For example, if education is something you value and your goal is to have your children attend college, you will probably need to begin a savings plan to be sure that you have enough money when the children are college age.

Goals can change as your interests, income, life-style, and personal circumstances change.  If you get laid off your job, for example, you will probably have to change some goals that are not as important. 

The first step is to identify your goals – or what you want to get done.  Some goals are short term – this week, month, or year.  These might be enough money to buy groceries for the week, shoes for your children, or a new coat.  Some are for later – one to 3 years – such as paying off your credit card debt.  Other goals are for the future – perhaps 5 years and beyond – and might include saving for a college education for your children or buying a house.

To be successful, goals should be SMART:

  1. Specific – This is what you plan to do.
  2. Measurable – You should be able to tell if you are achieving your goal.
  3. Agreed Upon – “ This is something everyone in our household agrees should be done”.
  4. Realistic – Goals fail if they are not realistic or achievable.
  5. Timed – Goals should have beginning and ending dates.

Let’s take a look at a goal.  Is it SMART?

“Beginning this month, I will save $50 a month until I have enough money in an emergency savings fund to pay for two months’ rent.”

Is it Specific? Yes No
Is it Measurable? Yes No
Is it Agreed Upon? Yes No
Is it Realistic? Yes No
Is it Timed? Yes No


Now that you know about SMART goals, think about your own goals.  Which goals are short-term and which are long-term?  Write them down on a piece of paper (or online) and put them somewhere in your home so you can see how you are doing.  When you accomplish a goal, reward yourself on a job well done!

Write a short-term goal – something that you want to accomplish in
3 months.

This is my SMART goal: (Click in the white boxes to edit)

What I will do to accomplish it:

Accomplish by:

Write a long-term goal – something you plan to accomplish in 5 years.

This is my goal: (Click in the white boxes to edit)

What I will do to accomplish it:

Accomplish by:

When you write your goals, keep them in a place where you can see them, like the front of the refrigerator or on the family bulletin board as a reminder of what you plan to do.  As you accomplish your goals, reward yourself!  Cross them out, give yourself a “gold star”, or pat yourself on the back.