Short-Term Financial Goals: 25 Examples and How to Achieve Them

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Contributor, Benzinga
May 19, 2023

As you're planning for your financial future and building retirement and college savings, it's important not to lose sight of short-term financial goals. These goals, which can include an emergency savings fund, a vacation or cutting back on groceries, can build momentum and give you a sense of accomplishment. Short-term financial goals, like mini-milestones toward your long-term financial planning, can help you stay on track and make achieving bigger goals more fun.

What are Short-Term Financial Goals?

You can achieve short-term financial goals within a few months to a year. They give you concrete landmarks and short-term targets to reach long-term financial goals. A short-term financial goal might include saving for a special vacation, a house downpayment or building an emergency fund. 

Short-term goals can be built into mid-term financial goals that take one to three years to achieve. Together, these can put you on track for long-term goals that may take 20 years or more to reach — things like building a college fund for your kids or saving for retirement. 

Short-term goals are smart ways to make saving, earning and investing more fun. It gives you achievement milestones and a chance to celebrate while building financial freedom. Short-term goals also allow you to buy bigger things like a new computer or a special vacation without going over budget.   

25 Examples of Short-Term Financial Goals

Here are examples of short-term financial goals to get you started brainstorming. Choose one short-term financial goal or several.  Once you accomplish one, take on another. 

  1. Build an emergency fund of $1,000 in the next three months.
  2. Pay off your credit card balance within the next two months.
  3. Save $500 for a vacation in the next six months.
  4. Cut your grocery bill by 10% over the next month.
  5. Increase your income by 5% in the next three months.
  6. Create a budget and stick to it for the next two months.
  7. Put an extra $100 toward your student loan each month for the next six months.
  8. Lower your utility bills by 15% in the next three months.
  9. Put $200 into a retirement account each month for the next six months.
  10. Increase your credit score by 20 points in the next three months.
  11. Save $300 for a new computer in the next four months.
  12. Reduce your entertainment spending by 10% in the next two months.
  13. Create a debt repayment plan and start paying off your debt in the next month.
  14. Start contributing to a health savings account in the next two months.
  15. Save $100 each month toward a down payment for a house.
  16. Negotiate your cable or phone bill and save $20 per month for the next year.
  17. Save $150 for a new bike in the next three months.
  18. Start using a grocery list and cut your food waste in half in the next month.
  19. Save $250 for a new piece of furniture in the next six months.
  20. Track your expenses for the next three months and identify areas where you can save.
  21. Reduce your transportation costs by 10% in the next two months.
  22. Put $150 into a college savings plan for your child each month for the next six months.
  23. Save $100 each month toward a new wardrobe in the next four months.
  24. Start using cash instead of credit cards for discretionary spending for the next month.
  25. Set up automatic transfers of $50 each week into a savings account for the next three months.

How to Achieve Your Short-Term Financial Goals in 7 Steps

Achieving short-term monetary goals requires a look at your finances and some determination. Here's how to get started. 

1. Define Your Short-Term Financial Goals

Start by defining your short-term goals. To accomplish goals, you need to know what you're aiming for. You could choose a single goal or two complementary goals, like savings and career goals. Or you could start by improving financial literacy to set better goals. 

2. Assess Your Finances

Assess your financial situation and see where you can reduce expenses. If your goal involves cutting back on expenses or saving more, check for the easy cuts. Can you skip one meal out a week or have a movie night at home instead of going to a theater? What is a reasonable time frame for achieving your financial goals if the savings amount is larger?

3. Create a Budget

A budget helps most people stay on track with their spending. If you don't have a budget, start by tracking your monthly spending. Remember, the first step to cutting back it to know what you're spending now. Then, create a realistic budget and note anywhere you'd like to cut back. 

4. Explore Strategies for Achieving Your Short-Term Monetary Goals

After you've made the budget, you can consider cutting back on key areas even over the short term. For example, you could pause extra entertainment expenses for two to three months and put that money into an emergency fund. 

But you can only reduce expenses by so much. After choosing where to cut back, it's time to earn more. Explore ways to increase your income, such as extra part-time or freelance jobs. You can also consider applying for new jobs, asking for a raise or applying for a more senior position with a higher salary in your current company. 

5. Use The Right Tools

Consider using tools and resources like financial apps or a financial adviser to help you achieve your goals. These resources can automate budget tracking, sync with your credit cards to monitor spending and offer insights and strategies to help you save more. 

6. Track Your Progress

Goals are fun when you see progress. Measure your progress regularly and celebrate small wins along the way. To stay motivated and committed to achieving your goals, enlist your spouse or family members' support even when it gets tough. You can also share your goals with like-minded friends and support each other to work toward both short-term and long-term financial goals. 

7. Make Adjustments When Necessary

Goals aren't set in stone. Keep adjusting your goals as necessary and continue to strive for financial stability. Don't be hard on yourself if you haven't achieved your goals. Look at where you are now and what you can do this week, even if it's only saving $5. Remember that little changes add up over time. The key is consistently doing what you can each month. 

Benefits of Setting and Achieving Short-Term Financial Goals

Short-term goals give you the momentum to build toward long-term financial goals. They can also help relieve financial stress and increase your confidence. Here's an overview of short-term financial goal benefits. 

Building Momentum

Goal-setting can be fun and motivating. For example, when you see that extra $500 in your bank account, it's evidence of your success. Achieving a short-term financial goal can provide a sense of accomplishment and momentum, motivating you to continue setting and achieving more goals. Short-term goals break down long-term financial goals into regular milestones worth celebrating. 

Reducing Stress

Many people worry about finances. Having a clear plan for your finances, including a budget and understanding your financial picture, can reduce stress. Setting and achieving short-term goals can help improve your financial health while reducing stress and anxiety associated with financial management.

Saving Money

Sometimes just paying attention to your spending can reduce unnecessary expenses and lead to greater savings. Achieving short-term financial goals can help you save money and build better financial habits, impacting your long-term financial health. 

Improving Financial Security

As your savings grow, a sense of security grows with it. Reaching short-term financial goals can improve financial security and reduce the risk of financial emergencies or unexpected expenses. While no one wants unexpected expenses, knowing you're covered if something comes up will protect your family and peace of mind. 

Building Discipline

Meeting short-term financial goals requires discipline and commitment, which can help you build better financial habits over time. Each small win can help shift priorities. For example, you may start to find that you gain a sense of accomplishment from saving rather than spending or discovering free activities your family loves to do together. 

Improving Credit Score

Achieving short-term financial goals like paying off debt or improving your credit score can positively impact your financial health. A higher credit score means greater financial opportunities, like a lower interest rate on a mortgage or loan. This can lead to thousands of dollars in savings on interest payments, further improving your long-term financial health.

Achieving Larger Goals

Short-term financial goals can help you progress toward achieving larger financial goals, such as saving for retirement or buying a home. While each small financial goal may also be one step toward your larger goals, consistency is key, and short-term accomplishments can improve long-term success. 

Increasing Confidence

Short-term financial goals can increase your confidence in managing and achieving financial goals. It can build a sense of freedom that you have the resources to build your bigger life goals. Setting and achieving financial goals can be empowering.

Achieving Your Short-Term Financial Goals

Setting and achieving a short-term financial goal builds momentum toward larger financial goals. While retirement is like a marathon that requires patience and endurance, short-term financial goals can feel like winning a sprint. With each new goal achieved, you're building momentum and setting yourself up for financial freedom and increased security. 

Consider enlisting your friends and family and making the shared goals a reason to come together and celebrate. And as you build momentum, learn more about goal-based investing to turn short-term goals into a part of your long-term wealth-building strategy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

What are some examples of short-term financial goals?

A

Examples of short-term financial goals include saving for a vacation, paying off credit card debt, building an emergency fund and making a down payment on a car.

Q

How can I stay motivated to achieve my short-term financial goals?

A

Writing down your goals, tracking your progress and rewarding yourself when you reach a milestone can help keep you motivated. It may also help to enlist the support of a friend or family member who can hold you accountable.

Q

Should I prioritize paying off debt or building savings for short-term financial goals?

A

It depends on your circumstances. If your debt has a high-interest rate, it may make more sense to prioritize paying off debt. But having some savings set aside can provide a cushion in case of unexpected expenses.

About Alison Plaut

Alison Plaut is a personal finance writer with a sustainable MBA, passionate about helping people learn more about financial basics for wealth building and financial freedom. She has more than 17 years of writing experience, focused on real estate and mortgage, business, personal finance, and investing. Her work has been published in The Motley Fool, MoneyLion, and she is a regular contributor for Benzinga.