Setting goals: working out what you want, and how you’re going to get it.

By Bernadette Chua |

Saving It


Now this should fun:  working out what you want in life,when you want it and how you can get it. But financial goal setting is not just about understanding what you want –  you need to work out what’s really important and how it fits together in your life.

You’ll be surprised at how many things you think are important aren’t.  And how many things you haven’t thought about are essential. It’s a bit like shopping.  You toy with things you think you want, but don’t really need.

When thinking about your life, you’ll need to be very clear about how you see yourself in the short term, medium term and and long-term. Once you know where you are going, it will be far easier to know when you’ve got there.

But here’s the fun part – make those goals things you really want.

It’s all about overcoming the temptation to spend the money you’ve got now, and making it work for you.

The best approach to goal setting is to understand how to chip away at debt, save where you can and prioritise what you want over the short, medium and longer terms.

Here are some ideas to get your big life goals underway:

In the shorter term – one to two years

Think fun! A holiday in Thailand next year… or a more expensive, longer sojourn the following year. A new couch. Maybe even a new kitchen. These are the sorts of goals you should be focusing on in this period. The relatively instant pay-offs. These are beautiful money targets because they make you feel you are really achieving something. (Whatever you do, never use credit for something experiential for which you’ll have nothing to show afterwards but photos). Also cast your mind towards the future: pay off a credit card without forking out a fortune in interest… or clear that car loan years early.

In the medium term – three to five years

In this period your car might need replacing. Plan this far ahead and rather than automatically borrowing for what is one of the worst investments, you could pay cash. Put aside $140 a fortnight and in five years with a top savings account you could have $20,000 cash to buy a car. The alternative is to borrow $20,000 to buy a car then paying about $27,000 including interest for it over the next five years, or $205 a fortnight. In this timeframe you might also like a new kitchen. Same deal.

In the longer term – five years+

The ultimate goal for all of us should be to retire with no personal, or non-investment, debt. The other Holy Grail of retirement is a big enough asset base – super, a separate share portfolio or property, for example – to generate an income adequate to replace your salary (or the recommended two-thirds of it).

If you are planning yourself, settle back and dream big.  But be realistic about your own future earnings.  Good luck!

And here’s a form to download to fill out your own goals…


goal setting chartGoal

Seeking Financial Advice?

Choose an icon to find advisers across Australia who have offered to help on that specific topic. Find out more about what these advice services cost and what is free.


I am experiencing financial hardship


I have been made redundant


I want to access super


I want access to super (for free)