How to Create Financial Goals That Really Matter


As women, we often find ourselves trying to take care of everything. For many of us, multitasking is a part of daily life. Have you taken time lately to sit back and reflect on why you’re working so hard in the first place and what’s most meaningful to you?

As someone who advises others about their finances, I’ve noticed that creating goals related to what’s personally meaningful is the last thing some of us think about. Yet, setting financial goals around more “practical” considerations, like saving for retirement or paying for a child’s education, seem easier for many women to implement.

It may feel like an impossible task to include your own dreams and visions in the mix, given all the energy and money you already invest in your practical money management. However, if you can make time to fit in one additional request or go the extra mile for someone else, why can’t that person be you?

To help yourself create financial goals that matter to you too, consider your answers to the following questions.

  • What do you value most? Write down what comes to mind, in a free-flow of thoughts. See if you can come up with five or more ideas and don’t edit or filter them at first. See if there are common underlying themes to some of the items you wrote down. When your list feels good to you, explore what specific financial goals can align with your values. A financial advisor may be able to provide resources you hadn’t yet considered.
  • How do you enjoy spending your time? Perhaps it’s entertaining friends and relatives in your home, traveling out of town for fun and relaxation with your family, or getting away to have some time to yourself. If these are activities you want to continue engaging in, especially into retirement, it’s important to think about the long term as you save.
  • What goals do you have for your life in five or 10 years? Envision yourself years down the road. What are you doing? How are you living? How does that feel? Get as specific as you can about what feels joyful. Then, bring yourself back to the present and look at what you may need to adjust or eliminate to bring that vision to reality. A decade may seem like a long time away, but the years will likely pass quickly. It’s important to begin preparing now so you’ll be able to live the way you envision and be ready for unexpected life events that may arise in the meantime.
  • What’s your definition of wealth? Is it simply a matter of having enough money to meet your expenses and enjoy some extras? Does it mean more experiences than things? It may also be helpful to envision what your lifestyle will be like when you retire — is it more lavish or similar to how you’re living now? That will help you gauge what your financial goals for the future should look like. By recognizing what wealth means to you, you’ll have a better vision of how you can attain it.
  • What would you like your legacy to be?Thinking about your legacy will help you get grounded in what’s important. It will help you identify what needs to be added to or removed from your life to reach your goals, and provide the excitement or inspiration that fuels the process. Having more than enough for yourself and leaving excess wealth to others is a noble goal, as is the personal legacy you leave by touching lives through service and simply being yourself.

Every day affords us the opportunity to make new decisions and to refine what we want our lives to look like now and in the future. Financial goals and life goals are intertwined, so taking some time now to put together a plan that includes both will help you reach them.

kristen-fricks-roman Kristen Fricks-Roman CFP®, CRPS®, is a financial advisor and senior vice president at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Atlanta. She can be reached at [email protected].

The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, or its affiliates. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC and its Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Individuals should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, member SIPC.

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