Montana State University

Office of Financial Education

177 Strand Union Building
P.O. Box 174180
Bozeman MT 59717-4180

Tel: 406-994-4388
Fax: 406-994-5488



Why is goal setting important?

Goals should reflect the person you are and what is important to you. Think of setting goals as determining the destination for your future. Goals help you focus your energy, time and financial resources, as well as help you make informed decisions when unexpected situations arise. A goal should provide guidance and direction.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Use the S.M.A.R.T. criteria below to put more detail into your goals.

  •  S Specific: Create a specific goal rather than a general one.
  •  M Measurable: Establish criteria for measuring progress towards each goal.
  •  A Attainable: Stay inspired to meet the goal by making it reasonable.
  •  R Realistic: Be willing and able to work towards the objective.
  •  T Time-Based: Give the goal a deadline.

Goals Generally fall into one of two broad categories: Short-term and Long-term.

Short-term goals are often achieved in the near future (in a day, a week, or within a few months).


    • Paying off a debt
    • Putting money in a savings account
    • Completing a class with a high grade

Long-term goals are achieved over a longer period of time (one year, five years, or twenty years).


    • Graduating from college
    • Buying a home
    • Living debt free


Short and long-term goals complement each other. The completion of short-term goals will give you momentum and motivation to accomplish your long-term goals. Practice writing S.M.A.R.T. short and long-term financial goals in the worksheet provided.

Click here to download the worksheet.