Young woman working at home, setting financial goals

Setting financial goals as a single person

Every successful individual sets goals, which provides long-term vision and short-term motivation. Goal setting works in all facets of life, including finances. If you’re single, you might be thinking, “Do I really need to go through the trouble of thinking about, setting and writing down my financial goals?”

Yes! In fact, it’s even more important! Without a parent or partner to remind you, your written down goals will serve as your constant encouragement and compass. They will get you focused and guide you toward what’s most important to you, even when life gets busy!

Here are some tips for getting started with setting financial goals:

  1. Envision where you want to be in the future financially. Consider how you want your lifestyle to be in 5 years, 10 years, and at retirement. This breaks up your goals into segments such as short-term, mid-term, and long-term.
  2. Write your goals down. (See our SMART GOALS tip below)
  3. Prioritize your goals. You cannot expect to do them all right now. What is most important to you? Would you rather have a newer car, buy a home, or retire early?
  4. Revisit your goals. It is okay if they change! Just like your budget will change with different life events, so do your future plans.


So that you don’t set yourself up to fail, practice setting SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound. For each goal that you think of to write down, use this acronym to write it out:

  1. Specific: State specifically what you want to accomplish. Not “save as much money as possible”, but rather “by the end of this year, I hope to save $2000 of my gross earnings and use the money towards down payment for a car.”
  2. Measurable: How will you track progress or know if the goal is completed? Crafting the goal in quantifiable terms will help ensure that you are on the right track to accomplishing your goal.
  3. Action-oriented: What are the specific steps you will take to make it happen? What effort can you put forth?
  4. Realistic: Are you basing the goal on assumptions or facts? You might assume that your income will go up soon, but you don’t know for sure. Is your goal reasonable? If so, you’ll be motivated to pursue it. It is okay to have many small goals that result in your big-picture goal. Goals need to be attainable.
  5. Time-Bound: Set a deadline for yourself to hold yourself accountable. If it is too overwhelming, then split the goal up into multiple smaller goals with separate deadlines.

As a single person, you must depend on yourself to reach your goals. There is not a second person to assist with income, pay expenses, track bills, manage debt, research investments, or even just help with grocery shopping to find the best prices. But it also means it’s all in your control too. You have the power to design your life so that you reach your goals.

What is the best tip for a single person planning their finances? Ask for help when you need it.

You are not expected to be a subject matter expert in everything. It’s okay to seek assistance on topics you are not as familiar with, such as life insurance or financial planning.

Finally, understand that financial counselors can help you at every stage in your life to best identify what is needed, and help you make a plan for reaching your goals. There are financial counselors available through Foresters’ Everyday Money member benefit who may be able to help you set financial goals and get on the right path to achieving them!

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Michelle Budzien

Michelle Budzien is an Accredited Financial Counselor for askFinancial Wellness. She also assists with the Foresters Everyday Money financial helpline, providing unbiased financial coaching and education with the goal of improving the financial well-being of Foresters members. Michelle enjoys writing about all aspects of personal finance such as budgeting tips and tools, debt management, understanding credit, analyzing future needs, and industry trends.