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Setting SMART Goals to Get Out of Debt

Success begins with setting your financial targets the right way and applying them towards paying off your debt.

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SMART goal setting 101

SMART Goal Setting 101:

What is a SMART goal? SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. SMART refers to a process that ensures your goal is specific enough to work.


Good goals are clearly stated, laying out both the outcome and the actions to be taken towards achieving the goal. If a goal seems too complicated, it should be broken into sub-goals that can be clearly stated.


To make progress on your goal, you must be able to measure your progress. A good goal has an outcome and milestones that can be unambiguously measured.


Good goals have an attainable outcome that inspires a sense of commitment. The best way to set attainable goals is either to start with a first goal that can easily be reached, thereafter moving towards more challenging targets that do not sap your motivation. Another approach is to start right off with a moderate goal that entails pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone—but only slightly. Once these initial milestones are achieved your confidence will rise and then your chance of successfully tackling more challenging goals will be higher.


The goal should be meaningful and significant in your life and your broader life goals.


Good goals are time-bound, they have a specific target completion date that is neither too long nor too short. Set a realistic time frame that will inspire confidence, but still give you a sense of accomplishment when reached.

How can you apply the SMART framework to your debt? Start by understanding your debt situation and the means at your disposal to attain it. Based on the previous steps, you should have a good sense for this at this point.

Article was written by Jean Chatzky, personal finance expert, best-selling author, and Editor In Chief at SavvyMoney and provided by SavvyMoney®