Setting Financial Goals

Aug 27, 2021

Goal setting helps organize our brains and helps us focus on what we want to achieve.  You will never achieve a goal you don’t set.  When it comes to financial management, goal setting is mission critical.  If you want to achieve significance from a financial wellness standpoint, you need to make setting financial goals important.

In our Relation$hip Cents course, which is a practical hands on course that helps individuals and couples develop budgets, we give people examples of short and long-term financial goals. During the course of the workshop, they need to set goals – right in the moment.  It can be one of the trickiest parts of the practical learning for some participants. Some have never contemplated goals. They may have a few dreams or things they hope for one day; buying a vacation property, retiring at a certain age or something else; but they have never stated them as actual firm goals. Let alone developed a plan to achieve them.

A dream without a plan just about never comes to fruition.

What are financial goals?

What do I mean by short-term and long-term goals?  My husband and I have always had financial goals, so I will detail some of our personal ones.  When we first got married, we were both in post secondary schooling; he was finishing graduate studies and I started my CGA designation.  The main short-term goal we had at that time, was to pay for our education as we progressed. The goal was to not take any student loans.  We already had a mortgage, so we had to be careful.

Back then we did our budget with pen and paper in a black coil bound book with a ledger.  It was a zero sum budget where every dollar had a spot to for dollar. Every expense was recorded so we knew at all times how much money was in each fund.  Of course the tuition fund was proportionally large, but it had to be to meet our short-term goal. There have been other financial goals throughout the years like buying new furniture and taking vacations.

Some of our longer term financial goals related to selling our condominium and purchasing our first single family home.  This took a few years, and we had to overcome the leaky condo crisis and recover from selling the condo for $33,000 less than we paid for it.  But, it was a goal and we set our minds to it and achieved it.  When we started our family, we created the long-term goal of putting money away into a RESP for our children, to assist them with the cost of their post-secondary education. This goal is now coming full circle as we are now actively withdrawing from the RESP for our oldest son who attends university.

You see, our financial goals were our dreams but with work boots on.

Now, your turn to articulate your financial goals

What are your financial goals?  As a rule, I tend to think of a short-term financial goal as something for the next 12-18 months.  Beyond that, I would tend to think of the goal as long term.  There are other things that come up as well in a much shorter-term horizon where you have to shift spending in order to undertake a particular spending priority, that may not be so much a goal, but just a priority.  You can use the timeframe and language that best suits you.  Regardless, I encourage you to articulate at least 3 short-term and 3 long-term financial goals.  If you have a partner, discuss these and brainstorm together.  Some of your most intense and yet rewarding conversations with a life partner will be about finances. The short and long-term financial goals you set, should be right at the heart of these conversations.

Happy financial goal setting and goal achieving!

May you be better positioned to be empowered in YOUR finances;


Shanalisa Keller is a CPA, CGA and Coactive Trained Coach who founded and leads the team at Canadian Finance Gal. She has a desire to make personal and business finances less daunting and confusing. ⁣⁣She loves accounting and tax and wears the respective geek label with pride. When Shanalisa is not counting beans you can find her mixing a fun new cocktail or building a tasty charcuterie board.⁣⁣ You can read her other blogs on various small business topics here,  book a chat or coffee or wine with her here, or you can find her on LinkedIn (her favourite social platform).

Check out my Current Workshops!