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How to Set Financial Goals

The below content is provided by our friends at Pocketnest, and does not reflect financial advice from Service Credit Union. Service CU’s Fin-Life app for financial wellness is powered by Pocketnest. Download it today on the App Store or Google Play!

Financial Goals

Let’s face it; money is complicated. It’s a necessary evil that we all need to survive, but it can also cause a lot of stress and anxiety if we don’t have it under control. That’s why setting financial goals is so important. It’s like giving yourself a roadmap to navigate the twists and turns of your financial life. 

Without a plan, we’re just wandering around aimlessly, spending money here and there without any real direction. It’s like driving without a GPS. You might get somewhere eventually, but it will take much longer and be more stressful. 

But when we set financial goals, it’s like a co-pilot guiding us toward our destination. We know where we’re going and what we must do to get there. Plus, it gives us something to work toward.

The importance of financial goal setting

Recent data from January 2023 found that fewer than 64% of Americans claim to live paycheck to paycheck.  

Not all paycheck-to-paycheck situations occur because of poor planning; however, goal-setting and intentionality can help mitigate financial hardship. It’s not just low-earners living paycheck to paycheck; 40% of high-income earners struggle with this, too.  

Financial goal setting is crucial because it gives us direction and purpose regarding our money. Without goals, we’re just floating around aimlessly, spending money here and there without thinking about it. When we set financial goals, we have a clear target to aim for, making it easier to make money decisions—like where the next dollar goes. It also helps us stay motivated. When we have something we’re working toward, it’s easier to stay focused and keep pushing forward.

Defining your focus areas and goals

Set your goals systematically and in an organized way that makes sense for you, your situation, and your priorities. How do you choose your first goal? That’s different for everyone!


If you have poor credit, improving it should be your top priority. Better credit can help you qualify for better loans, credit cards, and rental agreements.

Buying a home

If you’re interested in purchasing a home, you’ll need to save up for a down payment and improve your credit score. This can take several years, so start planning early.

Buying a car

Although not quite on the same level of buying a home, a car is a big purchase, and it’s not something most of us should do without much forethought. If this is on your goals list, take some time to arrange your finances accordingly. Start saving, researching, and finding something that fits your budget.


If you’re looking to advance your career, you may need to invest in additional education or certifications. This can be expensive, so it’s important to budget accordingly.


Whether you’re saving for retirement, a rainy day fund, or a big purchase, set savings goals and make regular contributions.


If you struggle with overspending, setting a budget can help you stay on track and save money.

Retirement planning

According to a recent survey, 32% of working-age Americans don’t have any retirement savings. If you know you’re behind on your retirement investing/saving, now is the time to add this to your goals docket; the earlier, the better.


If you want to start investing, you’ll need to learn how to assess stocks, navigate volatile markets, shape your portfolio philosophy, and more. It seems like a lot at first, but if you focus on a goal and plod along consistently, you’ll be an expert in no time.

Create a timeline for achieving your goals

Aiming for a goal is one thing, but that’s like driving blind if you don’t have a strategy as your roadmap on how to get there. Once you’ve defined your goal areas and set forth what you’d like to accomplish within each of them, craft a timeline that gets you there.  

Break down each goal into smaller, manageable steps. For example, if your goal is to improve your credit score, your timeline might look something like this: 

  • Month 1: Order a copy of your credit report and review it for errors. 
  • Month 2-3: Dispute any errors on your credit report and start making on-time payments on all of your bills. 
  • Month 4-6: Pay down any outstanding debts and avoid applying for new credit. 
  • Month 7-12: Continue making on-time payments and monitoring your credit score. 

By breaking your goals down into smaller steps, you’ll be able to make progress without feeling overwhelmed. Track your progress and adjust your timeline as needed. Life can be unpredictable, so making changes along the way is okay. 

Remember, starting small and making adjustments along the way is okay. The important thing is to keep pushing forward and never give up on your financial goals.  

We’re here to help you reap the rewards of all that hard work. Consistency is required to get there, so here’s a friendly nudge to remember to log into Pocketnest regularly, update your to-do list, keep an eye on your transactions, and stay en route to financial wellness.