Visioning Homeownership – Part 3 of 4

Homeownership Goals

What personal finance goals have you set for yourself in regards to buying a home? Reaching your goals is possible when they are S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

 

For example, just saying that you want to buy a house is not specific, measurable or time-bound. Let’s take a look at each component of S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting.

  • SPECIFIC – A goal should clearly describe what you want to achieve, as well as why you want to achieve this goal. You should use words that are clear, so rather than saying I want to buy a house, explain what type of house. Is this a starter house or a dream house? Include the location, size, features, and other important facets you want. The more specific, the better chance you will reach your goal.

Example: I would like to save $10,000 for a down payment to buy a 3 Bedroom, 2 bathroom Single Family House with a price of $350,000 or less in Manchester, NH within 2 years.

  • ACHIEVABLE – The goal needs to be achievable or attainable, so you need to make sure that this purchase fits into your lifestyle and your budget. Include the resources needed to complete each step in the process. For example, you might only be able to save $100 each month for the first six months, and then you might be able to increase that amount so you can reach your down payment saving goal sooner.

Based on an evaluation of your financial situation, you may need to either extend the timeline out further or eliminate some expenses so that you can save more and make your goal of $10,000 more achievable.

  • MEASURABLE –  The goal should also include how you will measure progress toward the goal, and how you will know that you have achieved each step along the way. Let’s stay with the house example. You need to include when you plan to buy the house and how much you will be setting aside or saving each month towards the down payment. This way, you can see if you are on track and can measure how much you still need before you can purchase your starter or dream house.

Example: To save $10,000 in 2 years ($10,000/24 months = $416.67 per month). You will need to hold yourself accountable to set that aside in each month. Other factors that can be measured are improvements to your income, savings rate, debt repayment, and credit score.

  • RELEVANT – The goal needs to be important to you. Describe what you will gain from achieving the goal, including whether it is worthwhile. A goal needs to have value for you if you are going to commit time, money, and other resources towards reaching the goal. Identify if this goal will save you time or money in the future, and if it will bring you other things, such as satisfaction, happiness, or the ability to do things you currently are not able to do.

Example: You and your spouse would really like to expand your family within 2 years and are committed to settling into a house before growing your family. A new house will provide the space and stability that you feel is very important to your family.

  • TIME BOUND – A goal needs to have a completion date and timeline for each action step in the process toward achieving the goal. If you can measure progress each week or month as to where you are towards your goal, you are more likely to achieve the results.

Setting up a realistic timeline is important because if the timeline is too short and you cannot achieve the results, you may be frustrated. If the timeline is too long, you may forget to check in and measure your progress.

Evaluate your goal at least monthly (weekly would be better) to make sure you are still on track. Keep a progress report in a spreadsheet or in a journal. If your goal and progress are written down and visible to you, you are more likely to reach your goal, as it will help you stay focused and motivated to see results. Another helpful tip to keep you on track – and accountable – is to share your goal with a friend or family member. Did you set aside the $416.67 this month?

If something happens that puts you off your original track, it’s okay! Re-evaluate and revise your goals. Goals should be clear enough to keep you on track, and flexible enough so you can make adjustments or changes when unexpected events occur.

Download our S.M.A.R.T. Goal Worksheet and get started clarifying your goals.  Good Luck!

 

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