Setting these short-term financial goals can help you achieve bigger goals later.

3 minute read

Setting big financial goals like buying a home, saving for retirement or investing wisely can be intimidating when you’re trying to get your finances in order, pay off debt or improve your credit. Fortunately, you don’t have to start off with setting milestone financial goals right out of the gate.

That’s because focusing on short-term financial goals will hone your personal finance, money management and saving skills so you can gain confidence and achieve major financial goals sooner. And the good news is that many short-term financial goals can be attained within 90 days to six months – or, in some cases, even as little as 30 days.

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1. Start an emergency fund

Experts recommend having enough emergency savings to cover all expenses for at least six months if you lose your income. But setting a goal to save anywhere from $20,000 to $80,000 or more in emergency savings can seem nearly impossible, so many people don’t even try.

However, an emergency savings fund can keep you from racking up charges on a credit card for auto and home repairs and other unexpected expenses. Less credit card debt means you can put that money towards bigger goals such as a down payment on a house or starting a family.

So, set a short-term goal of opening a savings account and saving at least $1,000 initially. Then raise the goal amount incrementally each time you meet our emergency savings target. Before you know it, you’ll have a respectable emergency fund that you can continue to grow.

Find out: 5 Ways to Build Emergency Savings Fast

2. Create a budget

The key to managing money better is knowing what you have to work with, so set a monthly budget. You can even download a free budgeting app such as Mint or a similar app to make getting started easy. Need assistance with creating a monthly budget? Meet with a credit counselor at a free or nominal-fee nonprofit credit counseling agency for guidance and tips.

Find out: How to Create a Budget and Stick to It 

3. Reduce monthly expenses

It’s easy to fritter away hundreds of dollars a month on mindless spending and unnecessary expenses. However, it’s also easy to reduce monthly expenses, especially once you’ve got them all accounted for in a monthly budget.

For starters, you could shop around for better insurance rates, cancel streaming subscriptions and trim the amount spent each month dining out by cooking more meals at home. To get an idea of everyday spending, write down every dollar you spend as you go about your day. Then get ruthless with unnecessary spending so you can pay off debt and/or add to emergency savings.

Find out: 10 Ways to Reduce Monthly Expenses So You Can Pay Down Debt

4. Add to your income

One way to achieve both short-term and long-term financial goals faster is to increase your income. That may mean getting a new, higher-paying job, taking a second, part-time job or earning extra cash by pet sitting for your neighbors, mowing lawns or another side hustle.

Then put the extra cash towards emergency, retirement or another savings account or paying off debt so you can achieve bigger goals later, such as buying a house, moving, starting a family or another milestone financial objective.

Find out: 6 Safe Side Hustles You Can Pick Up During COVID-19

5. Go on a spending fast

Many people go on “detox” fasts intended to cleanse the body of toxins by cutting out sugar, alcohol or other foods or substances. But did you know that you can also work on detoxing your spending habits by going on a “spending fast” for at least 30 days?

Write down ways you can spend much less for a month, such as not using credit cards, preparing meals at home instead of getting takeout or buying snacks at the grocery store instead of the convenience store or coffee shop. Then keep track of how much you save. Who knows? You may decide to make some of your new spending fast habits part of your everyday life.

6. Pay off one debt

If you have several credit card or loan balances, choose one to pay extra on so you can pay it off fast. For example, if one credit card balance is $500, you may be able to knock that out in one or two months so you can focus on other debts. This way, you’ll gain confidence and momentum to pay off other debts.

Find out: How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Faster

7. Pay off all your credit card debt

Getting to a zero balance with all credit card debt can still be a semi-short-term goal, even if that target seems like it could take forever. If you could be debt-free in a year or 18 months, that’s still a fairly short-term goal. And once you focus on paying any extra money towards credit cards and paying off balances one by one, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can get rid of credit card debt.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC