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20+ achievable financial goal examples for every age

Review these helpful financial goals examples by age to strategize the best ways to save for the future of your dreams.

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May 22, 2024

6 minutes

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      Do you ever daydream about that ideal stress-free vacation or that perfect first home? Financial goals are the stepping stones that take you from dreams to reality. 

      Whether you're just starting out or well on your way, having clear financial goals is essential for optimizing your financial future. Even high-net-worth individuals rely on well-defined goals to manage and effectively build their wealth.

      We packed this post with over 20 financial goal examples across different categories to help you set and achieve the crucial milestones in your financial journey. But first, we'll explore short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals, providing inspiration for every stage of life.

      The 3 types of financial goals

      Not all financial goals are created equal. To stay motivated and on track for your ideal future, you’ll need a mix of short-, medium-, and long-term goals. 

      Short-term goals provide quick wins and build momentum, while mid-term goals propel you toward larger milestones. Long-term goals are the game-changers, setting you up for a secure and fulfilling future. 

      Chart explaining what kind of financials goals you could make and time frames to achieve them

      Short-term goals: A year or less

      Short-term goals are like laying the groundwork for your financial house. They provide quick wins that keep you motivated and focused on your long-term vision. Consider these goals as the initial rungs on your financial ladder, leading you towards bigger achievements in the future.

      Here are some examples to get you started:

      • Paying off high-interest debt: High-interest credit card debt can significantly hinder your progress. Prioritize paying it off to free up cash flow and improve your overall financial health.
      • Building an emergency fund: Having a readily available safety net of 3-6 months' living expenses protects you from unexpected costs and prevents you from having to dip into your long-term savings.
      • Saving for a vacation: Set a clear savings target and timeline for your dream getaway. Reward yourself and create lasting memories by setting aside money for your trip.

      Key purpose of short-term goals:

      Short-term wins will help give you some initial financial security and a sense of accomplishment to keep you engaged in your financial journey.

      Mid-term goals: 2-5 years

      Imagine your mid-term goals as bridges leading you toward your long-term aspirations. They represent significant progress, requiring more effort and time than short-term goals but potentially offering a greater sense of accomplishment upon completion. 

      Consider these common mid-term goals to help you strengthen your financial plan:

      • Saving for a down payment: Homeownership can be a major financial milestone. Focus on saving a substantial down payment to secure a better mortgage rate and reduce your long-term debt burden.
      • Paying student loan debt: Develop a strategic repayment plan to eliminate these loans within a set timeframe, freeing up future income for other goals.
      • Investing for specific needs: Consider mid-term goals like a child's college education or a new car. Start investing specifically for these needs, allowing your money to grow and potentially outpace inflation.
      • Maximizing retirement savings: While long-term retirement planning is crucial, mid-term strategies like increasing your 401(k) contributions can significantly boost your retirement nest egg.

      Key purpose of mid-term goals:

      Mid-term financial goals act as stepping stones, helping you track progress, adapt your financial strategy, and build confidence and momentum along the way.

      Long-term goals: 5+ years

      Long-term goals are life-changing goals that require dedication, planning, and potentially the expertise of a financial advisor. They are meant to be the culmination of years of hard work — you won’t achieve these types of goals overnight. Breaking them down into smaller, actionable steps can make them more achievable.

      Let's explore some long-term goals to consider:

      • Retiring early: Carefully strategize and plan your retirement savings and investments to ensure a comfortable lifestyle after you leave the workforce.
      • Financial independence: Financial independence means having enough passive income to cover your living expenses without relying on a job. Develop strategies to generate passive income streams, such as rental properties or dividend-paying investments.
      • Building a legacy: If you hope to financially take care of future generations, plan for wealth transfer strategies such as charitable giving or setting up a trust for your loved ones.

      Key purpose of long-term goals:

      Long-term financial goals provide a defined roadmap, helping you make strategic decisions today to achieve financial security and freedom in the years to come.

      Examples of financial goals at every stage of life

      Life throws different financial challenges and opportunities our way as we age. We’ve built out a roadmap to help you set achievable financial goals throughout your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. By understanding these age-specific goals, you can make informed financial decisions and navigate towards a secure future.

      List of financial goals examples for your 20s

      20s: Set yourself up for success

      Your 20s are the perfect time to establish healthy financial habits that can last a lifetime. You might be establishing your career, exploring new cities, or even starting a family. 

      While your income may not be at its peak yet, your 20s offer a unique advantage: time. The power of compound interest allows even small financial contributions to grow significantly over the long term.

      Building a strong foundation in your 20s doesn't require drastic lifestyle changes.  Focusing on smart financial habits like creating a budget and developing a savings plan can have a significant impact over time. 

      Short-Term: 

      1. Create a budget to track your income and expenses.
      2. Build an emergency fund of 3-6 months' living expenses to handle unexpected costs.
      3. Prioritize paying off high-interest credit card debt to avoid accruing significant interest charges.

      Mid-Term: 

      1. Put 10%-15% of your pre-tax income toward retirement savings. Early contributions you make now can grow from compound interest over time.
      2. Consider investing in a reliable starter car that fits your budget.

      Long-Term: 

      1. Start researching your ideal retirement age and how much you might need to save to achieve it. Utilize online retirement calculators or consult a financial advisor for more personalized estimates.

      By the end of your 20s, you have developed a solid budget, built up emergency savings, and started the initial steps toward your long-range retirement goals.

      30s: Maximize your growth

      Your 30s are often a time of significant life changes that may also come with increased financial responsibilities. You might be solidifying your career, buying a home, or starting a family. The good news is that the financial foundation you created in your 20s has prepared you to navigate these changes.

      List of financial goals examples for your 30s

      In your 30s, you can leverage your growing income and career stability to achieve more ambitious financial goals. Remember that even small adjustments to your financial habits can make a big difference.

      Short-Term: 

      1. Focus on eliminating high-interest debt like credit cards or personal loans. Freeing up this cash flow allows you to allocate more towards long-term goals.
      2. Improve your credit score by making consistent on-time payments and keeping your credit utilization ratio low. A good credit score unlocks better interest rates on loans, including mortgages, saving you money in the long run. 

      Mid-Term: 

      1. As your income grows, aim to contribute the maximum to your 401(k) and any other retirement accounts. Take advantage of employer matching programs to further accelerate your retirement savings.
      2. If you plan to start a family, consider starting a college savings plan for your child. Even small contributions invested when they’re little can benefit from compound interest and make future education costs more manageable.

      Long-Term: 

      1. Assess your career path for potential advancement opportunities as your skills and experience grow. Consider pursuing additional education or certifications to increase your earning potential.
      2. Review your existing retirement plan and adjust your 401(k) contributions based on your current income and long-term goals. Consult a financial advisor to ensure your retirement savings are on track to meet your needs.

      By the end of your 30s, you will have improved your creditworthiness, significantly reduced your high-interest debt, and taken an active role in building your retirement nest egg.

      40s: Build on your financial foundation

      Your 40s are a time to reap the rewards of your hard work while strategically planning for the future. You might be at your peak earning potential, have a growing family, and even be considering options for early retirement. 

      List of financial goals examples for your 40s

      Building upon the strong foundation you established in your 20s and 30s, you can now focus on achieving a healthy balance between short-term goals and long-term planning. At this stage, even small adjustments to your financial strategy can yield significant benefits.

      Short-Term: 

      1. As a reward for your hard work and persistence, set aside dedicated funds for the vacation you've been daydreaming about. 
      2. Strive to eliminate any remaining high-interest debt, such as student loans or credit card debt. Freeing up this cash flow allows you to allocate more towards long-term goals and reduce your overall financial burden.

      Mid-Term: 

      1. Explore ways to diversify your income sources. This could involve starting a side hustle, investing in rental properties, or negotiating a raise at your current job. 
      2. If early retirement in your 40s is a dream, explore strategies to make it a reality. This might involve calculating your retirement needs, increasing your retirement contributions, or exploring downsizing options.

      Long-Term: 

      1. Prioritize maximizing your contributions to retirement accounts. Aim to increase your contributions gradually over time, especially if your budget allows.
      2. Develop a plan to cover the potential costs of long-term care. Research long-term care insurance options or factor these costs into your overall retirement planning.

      By the end of your 40s, you will have paid off all of your high-interest debt, maximized your retirement savings, and found ways to bring in additional income.

      50s and 60s: Prepare for retirement living

      Your 50s and 60s will ideally mark a well-deserved transition toward a life filled with leisure and fulfillment.  Children may be grown, your career might be nearing its peak, and retirement is likely on the horizon. 

      List of financial goals examples for your 50s+

      The financial groundwork you laid in your previous decades provides the foundation for a comfortable retirement. Now, it's time to refine your financial strategy to optimize your present and future security. 

      Short-Term: 

      1. Consider downsizing your living space. This will free up cash flow and allow you to allocate more toward enjoying your retirement.

      Mid-Term: 

      1.  Develop a comprehensive estate plan. This should include a will, power of attorney, and beneficiary designations for your retirement accounts. 
      2. Start talking to your family regarding your retirement plans and healthcare wishes to prevent future confusion or conflict. 

      Long-Term: 

      1. Take advantage of catch-up contribution options if available to accelerate your retirement savings.
      2. You can gain the financial freedom and security to pursue your passions and interests without worry. 
      3. Enjoy your retirement by focusing on activities that bring you joy, spending time with loved ones, and traveling to those dream destinations. 

      By the end of your 60s, you will be set up to enjoy a well-funded retirement, with peace of mind from having established and communicated your future plans with your loved ones.

      10 tips for setting and achieving financial goals 

      Setting clear financial goals is crucial for achieving financial security, but translating those goals into reality can be challenging. We put together 10 actionable tips to empower you to take control of your financial well-being and set you on the path to success. 

      Use the SMART Framework

      The SMART framework provides a structured approach to setting effective goals. Here's what each letter represents:

      • Specific: Clearly define your goal. Instead of "save money," aim for something like "save $5,000 for a down payment within one year."
      • Measurable: Quantify your goal to track progress. Use numbers and deadlines to measure your success.
      • Achievable: Be realistic. Consider your current financial situation and set achievable goals to avoid getting discouraged.
      • Relevant: Ensure your goal aligns with your overall financial vision. Does saving for a new car make sense if your retirement savings are lagging?
      • Time-bound: Set a specific timeframe for achieving your goal. This creates a sense of urgency and keeps you focused.

      Break down big goals into smaller ones

      By dividing your large goal into smaller milestones, like saving a specific amount each week or month, you create a clear path toward achieving your ultimate objective. This approach makes the process less daunting and allows you to celebrate small victories along the way, which keeps you motivated in the long run.

      Create a budget

      A budget is your roadmap to financial success. It allows you to track your income and expenses, identify areas where you can cut back, and allocate funds toward your financial goals. The key to successful budgeting is finding a system that works for you and sticking to it.

      Try one of these budgeting methods:

      • Envelope system: Each month, place cash in envelopes designated for different spending categories (groceries, gas, entertainment, etc.). Once the cash runs out in a category, you stop spending until the next month’s envelope disbursement. 
      • 50/30/20 rule: This simple plan guides you to put 50% of the money you earn towards basic expenses or needs, 30% for personal expenses or wants, and  20% for saving for the future.
      • Reverse budgeting: Track your monthly expenses for a month. Then, subtract your desired savings goals and essential expenses from your income to determine how much you can allocate for your “wants” each month.  

      Prioritize your goals

      Not all financial goals are equally urgent or important. Focus on tackling your high-priority goals first, such as building an emergency fund or paying off high-interest debt. 

      Seeing progress on these critical goals creates a sense of accomplishment and keeps you motivated. Once you've achieved these initial milestones, you can channel your momentum and resources towards your longer-term financial targets.

      Automate your savings

      Setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account offers a "set it and forget it" approach to achieving your financial goals. It helps remove the temptation to spend that money and ensures consistent progress toward your savings goals.

      You can automate transfers for various goals, such as retirement savings, a down payment on a house, or a dream vacation. By scheduling automatic transfers, you commit to prioritizing your financial goals no matter what.

      Review and adjust your plan regularly

      Financial goals are not static. They should evolve alongside your life circumstances. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your financial plan is a useful way to stay on track. Schedule time at least quarterly, or more frequently if needed, to gauge your progress.  

      Are you on track to meet your savings goals? Have your expenses or income changed significantly? Based on your assessment, you might need to adjust your budget, savings targets, or overall financial strategy.  

      Consider professional help

      Financial planning can be complex, especially when navigating intricate investment strategies or complex financial products. Don't be afraid to seek professional guidance from a qualified financial planner or financial advisor. They can assess your financial situation, develop strategies to achieve your goals and provide ongoing support and guidance.

      Consulting with a financial advisor can be particularly beneficial for individuals with:

      • Complex financial goals, such as early retirement or estate planning
      • Significant assets requiring sophisticated investment strategies
      • Limited financial knowledge or experience

      Good to know:

      The fees associated with their services may vary, but the value financial advisors provide in terms of personalized advice, tax optimization strategies, and peace of mind can be significant for many people.

      Read inspirational stories

      Reading success stories of individuals who have achieved their financial goals can be a powerful tool in keeping you motivated. Their stories can offer practical tips, showcase different strategies, and demonstrate the power of perseverance. Look for books, articles, or blogs that resonate with your personal financial goals and situation. 

      Build a support network

      Share your financial goals with friends or family members who can provide encouragement and hold you accountable. Surrounding yourself with people who understand your goals — even if it’s just one or two — can have a positive influence. They can celebrate your victories, offer support during setbacks, and keep you focused on your long-term vision.

      Reward yourself

      Setting smaller goals and rewarding yourself upon achieving them can be a powerful way to maintain motivation. A nice dinner out, a relaxing spa day, or a weekend getaway can all serve as effective motivators, but the rewards don't have to be extravagant.  

      By acknowledging your progress and rewarding yourself for achieving your goals, you create a positive association with your financial efforts, making it more likely that you'll stay committed to your long-term plan.

      The Playbook take: Get the ball rolling on your financial future early

      By setting clear financial goals and taking control of your finances, you empower yourself to build a fulfilling and prosperous future. Use the financial goal examples in this guide to inspire you on your financial journey.

      Remember, you don't have to navigate this path alone. Tools like Playbook can help you create a financial plan and minimize taxes to keep you in line with your goals.

      What are some common financial goal mistakes to avoid?

      Common financial goal mistakes include:

      • Forgetting about unexpected expenses
      • Living paycheck to paycheck
      • Letting retirement savings fall by the wayside
      • Not having an emergency fund
      • Setting unrealistic goals
      • Forgetting to track your spending 
      Should I pay off all my debt before saving for other goals?

      Consider tackling high-interest debt like credit cards first, then channel the newfound cash flow toward your long-term goals. Credit card debt can snowball fast, eating away at your future savings. Debt with lower interest rates, such as student loans, can be balanced with savings goals. Consult a financial advisor to help you create a personalized plan to conquer your debt and improve your savings.

      How much do I need to save for retirement?

      There is no set dollar amount for everyone because it depends on the retirement lifestyle you prefer, your age, and your current savings. Online retirement calculators and financial advisors can help you estimate your needs and create a personalized savings plan.

      How can I stay motivated to achieve my financial goals?

      Maintaining motivation for long-term financial goals requires a disciplined approach. Utilize budgeting tools to help you stay on track. You can also use short- and mid-term goals to break down your long-term goals and track your progress. Celebrate major milestones with nonfinancial rewards, and consider seeking an accountability partner to share your goals and progress.

      About the author

      Theo Katsoulis, CFA

      Head of Investments

      Theo brings an extensive background in Institutional Asset Management. With a B.A. from Villanova University's School of Business, and having passed the rigorous Series 65 and CFA examinations, he brings significant expertise from portfolio management to understanding intricate financial infrastructures. As Head of Investments at Playbook, he ensures consumers receive exceptional diligence and care for their investment portfolios.

      Tanza Loudenback, CFP®

      Editor

      Tanza is a CFP® certificant, writer, and editor. From 2015 to 2021, she was a top-read author and editor at Insider. Her work focuses on helping people make smart decisions with their money and is published by a variety of online publications.

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      In this article