For most of us, instant gratification is hard to deny. We have only to look at the economy to know that it’s true. Simple, fast, and easy rule the consumer landscape, including tasty food we don’t have to prepare, easy-to-access entertainment, social media, online shopping, and groceries delivered straight to your door.
On the one hand, we are fortunate to live in a time with so much convenience. However, so much access to simple comforts makes long-term goals more important than ever. This is especially true for long-term financial goals.
Share your long-term goals with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional (CFP®) in the D.C. area. Brown | Miller employs financial expertise—not salespeople.
The power of a clear destination is that it shapes your choices on a daily and weekly basis. With well-defined financial goals, you have a context that assigns value and importance to your decisions. Instead of responding to trends and feeling like a captive to comfort, you have a goals-based destination that determines your path.
Long-term financial goals are more than a number. They are a process of establishing good habits and patterns of behavior that set you up for success. The examples in this article show specific long-term financial goals with tips on how to achieve them.
Examples of Long-Term Financial Goals
What is long-term? These goals have a time horizon of five years or more. Here are some examples of long-term financial goals with explanations.
Save For a Comfortable Retirement
Only about a quarter of Americans start saving for retirement in their 30s, and another quarter has no retirement savings. While some people can work well into their 70s, living comfortably on social security benefits alone is difficult or impossible, even if you qualify for the maximum benefits.
Insufficient retirement savings puts you at risk in the years you can be the most vulnerable. For this reason, saving for retirement may be the most important long-term financial goal you can have.
The good news: it’s never too late (or too early) to start. There are several tax-efficient ways to save for retirement, even if you max out your 401(k) or IRA. Other funds (like a Health Savings Account or annuity) shield income from taxes and build toward a comfortable retirement.
Create a College Fund
You may be financially able to pay for one or more kids to go to college without saving in advance. There are tax-advantaged funds you can use to accumulate education funds for your children. Plus, in the case of the unexpected, they still have what they need.
Contributions are not tax-deductible in the year they are contributed. Still, they can grow inside the account and be withdrawn tax-free if they are used for approved education-related expenses.
Pay Off Your Mortgage Before Retirement
Owning your home mortgage-free removes one layer of risk in retirement and frees available funds to support your lifestyle. While the annual depreciation deduction can be nice, there are other ways to manage your tax liability during retirement strategically.
A Brown | Miller financial advisor in the D.C. area can lead you through that process.
A small overpayment of principal each month can take years and tens of thousands of dollars off the life of your mortgage. For example, if your original loan amount was $800,000 and you have 25 years remaining on a 30-year loan at 3.5% interest, adding $500 to the monthly payment would cut over $71,000 and 4.5 years off the term of your loan. When interest rates are higher, the difference is even more pronounced.
Become Financially Independent
Financial independence frees your time from any work obligations and allows you to live according to your passions and preferences.
While it can seem like an impossible goal even for high-net-worth individuals, financial independence is simply having sufficient passive income to cover your monthly expenses. It is achievable with careful planning with steady effort, and a skilled financial advisor can help map your way there.
Create an Estate Plan
As financial advisors in D.C., we see the critical importance of a well-conceived estate plan. It’s a topic people tend to avoid, but it protects your assets from taxes and your heirs from the hassle of probate.
A clear estate plan also ensures that your wishes are carried out, alleviating unnecessary family strife. Ideally, you can create your estate plan decades before you need it and update it as your family and estate grow.
How to Set Financial Goals
You’re more likely to succeed in achieving your financial goals if they have meaning to you. As you compile your list, make a note of why they are essential.
- What experiences will achieving that goal allow you to have?
- What freedoms or opportunities will it open up for you?
For example, paying off your mortgage pre-retirement may give you the freedom to retire early, leave more of a legacy to your kids or the community, or expand your ability to travel.
Don’t feel like you have to get all of your goals outlined in one sitting. You may find new short- and long-term ideas coming to mind. Note them as they come up and add them to your list.
The next step is to organize your goals by urgency and importance. It may not be feasible to take action on all of them immediately, so think about which to attend first and which can begin later.
SMART Goals Are Achievable
Once your initial list is complete and prioritized, it’s time to make them SMART. This can apply in your personal life as well as the workplace.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Essentially, you take the idea and bring it into quantifiable action steps.
For example, instead of “Save for a Comfortable Retirement,” your SMART goal would start with a specific number you want to save by your estimated retirement year and then break that down further into monthly savings goals.
Next, have that monthly savings amount automatically deducted from your paycheck or bank account.
Long-term financial goals are more like projects than individual tasks. Breaking them down into smaller, measurable milestones helps monitor your progress. Check-in at regular intervals so you can adapt your strategy if needed.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Big projects and long-term goals can seem unsatisfying during the early stages. It’s hard to celebrate success when you’ve only taken a few steps toward your target. However, the payoff is well worth the time and effort.
Your biggest asset is time, and the most significant challenge is a mindset. The more you can automate the steps you need to take to achieve your long-term financial goals, the easier your road will be.
Having a seasoned professional on your side can be an enormous help. A financial advisor will help you define your goals, set them into motion, and keep them on track as conditions and situations change.
Using our holistic 3D wealth management process, our dedicated team combines the power of compounding capital with a well-designed goals-based plan to help you live your best life. Call our Brown | Miller team today to discuss your long-term goals.
Failing to set financial goals now will be felt in the future. Connect with a fee-only advisor in D.C. today.