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How to set SMART goals for managing money

As a medical student, studying at university, chances are you’ve heard of SMART goals but did you know that SMART goal setting can transform the way you manage your finances?

  5 minutes


As a doctor, dentist or vet who spent years at university, chances are you’ve heard of SMART goals. It’s also likely that you haven’t thought too much about them since, but did you know that SMART goal setting can transform the way you manage your finances?

Let’s take a closer look at how SMART principles can help you achieve your financial goals.

What are SMART goals?

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. The SMART framework has been around for a long time, for a host of sound reasons. SMART principles are easy to understand, act on, and follow up—all crucial to time-poor medical students!

If you’re saving for a particular purpose, have existing loans or need to get a deposit together, SMART goals can help.

Setting SMART goals for money management

Let’s consider some examples of SMART principles in action, and how they can accelerate your financial plans.


Most of us are guilty of making vague financial resolutions with general aims of saving more or spending less that we often don’t follow through on.

SMART goals work because they are detailed - spelling out the what, why, where, who and when – clearly specifying the desired goals. An example is, “I plan on contributing $x into my savings account this year so that I can obtain a loan by next December.”


How many times have you resolved to save for a certain goal, only to find it hasn’t happened? Often it's because the finish line isn't clear, so you meander about in an unfocused way.

You are more likely to achieve a goal that is tangible and measurable than one that is vague, so attach a number to your financial goals. This will give you a verifiable trajectory that will help you be accountable.

Use statements like: “I aim to obtain a loan in the next 12 months. I plan on contributing $X per week so that I can reach my savings target.”


Even if you’re a super-motivated type-A personality, there’s no point in setting yourself a goal you can’t achieve. If your plan involves putting half of everything you bring in into savings while still paying rent and buying food, you are setting yourself up for failure.

If your goal is to save a little more than you’re comfortable with and lock your money away so you can’t be swayed by, say, an astoundingly nice pair of shoes. Using the different savings products available to you will help you get to those goals quicker.


While aiming high is commendable, goals that are not really going to happen—saving 80% of your incoming money —may end in disappointment.

Evaluating what you can realistically push yourself to is important. However, a goal of quitting your part time job and becoming a successful blogger who earns millions probably isn’t. Keep it real.


Even eating baked beans on toast most nights is tolerable if there’s a definite end-point in sight. Adding deadlines to your financial goals provides a layer of built-in accountability and motivation.

A goal of saving for a new laptop is vague and easy to ignore, but reframing your goal to saving $2 000, will ramp your commitment to your financial goal up few notches.

What next?

Being clever about using SMART goals can help you manage your money in a more effective, realistic and attainable way. So if you’re looking to get to grips with your finances then using the SMART principles can transform the way you manage your money and help you reach your goals sooner.                                                           


Want to learn more about your different options for managing money? Click on the link to see our range of transaction accounts. Ready to take the next step? Contact us to find out how we can tailor a finance solution for you, or call us on 1300 131 141.

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      The information contained in this webpage is general in nature and has been provided in good faith, without taking into account your personal circumstances. While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information is accurate and opinions fair and reasonable, no warranties in this regard are provided.