According to the American Psychological Association, a survey conducted in 2017 on what most Americans stress about indicates that 62% of Americans stressed money. Another survey by the Federal Reserve Board indicates, almost half of Americans could not cover a $400 emergency bill without borrowing money or selling something. These are scary statistics to digest.

I do not know about everyone else, but I do not recall having a single lesson on personal finances throughout my high school and college academic years. How can we expect people to succeed financially? In this short article, I will provide briefly overview financial literacy and financial goal setting.

Financial literacy is the ability to understand and manage money in our day-to-day lives such as need to budget our spending, investments, and savings.

Financial wellness, on the other hand, is a state in which an individual is financially secure in meeting their financial obligations currently and in the future. 

Everyone deserves to have enough money for food, to pay their bills, and have financial freedom. Financial wellness is crucial to a good quality of life. Hence, it is essential to have a basic understanding of financial literacy before starting on financial goal setting such as budgeting, being debt free, establishing an emergency fund, educational funding for child/ren, investing and saving. At the University of Southern Maine students are in different stages of their lives. Everyone reading this article can benefit regardless of where you are in your life. 

What is financial goal setting? Financial goal setting is prioritizing what you want to achieve by a particular time period, such the end of the year or before retirement. Depending on where you are in life, this will look different for everyone. The most important aspect of financial goal setting is understanding what you want to accomplish financially. For example, do you want to save for a down payment for an apartment after graduating from college, save for a down payment on a new vehicle, or buy a home? Having a financial goal provides you with seen of directions, just like the G.P.S. on your phone. 

One tool you can use for financial goal setting is the S.M.A.R.T. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. The SMART goal setting was developed by Doran, Arthur, and Cunningham in 1981. SMART is to make goal setting easier to understand and achieve. SMART goals are clearly understood by you and others. It must be measurable; how will you measure your goal? It must be attainable. What tools will you use to reach your goal? It must be relevant/ realistic, how you can meet the plan, and it must be timely, meaning the goal will be complete within a reasonable time frame.

Here is an example, I want to set up a financial goal of starting an emergency fund. My goal is I want to save two thousand dollars in my Emergency fund by December 30, 2023.  How can I achieve this goal? What would this look like in the next 12 months?  I will need to review income to expenses. I can divide 2000 by 12 months, which equals 166. Therefore, to achieve my goal of saving $2000 by December 30, 2023, in my Emergency Fund, I will have to save $166.00 per month. So, this goal is specific, measurable, realistic, and time-bound. You can use the same strategy for paying down credit card debt and saving for a down payment on a car or a house. When setting up a financial goal, it is essential to understand that goal setting is a landmark to getting to your destination, and action relates to the plan. Financial goal setting should be simple and flexible. There should be flexibility to accomplishing this goal. The other important thing is setting one or two goals at a time, to avoid become overwhelmed.  

You can set a short-term goal or long-term financial goal. What are some examples of goal-setting ideas monthly budgeting for yourself, reducing credit card debt by x amount of dollars by the end of 2023, student loan repayment, and setting up an emergency fund? 

The University of Southern Maine contracts with a few companies iGRAD and ECMC Solutions to provide financial wellness resources to students to help provide supporting in achieving your personal financial goals. iGRAD offers short courses on personal finances, such as budgeting, banking, getting out of debt, student loan repayment, and more. ECMC solutions provide federal direct student loan repayment counseling. Both services are accessible to students, alums, and faculty staff, free of charge. 

I have added Q.R. codes for iGRAD and ECMC solutions; they are great resources for educating yourself about budget setting, banking, student loan repayment options, and understanding your financial status. There are apps can help with budgeting and savings; I will list a couple as references. 


Budgeting Apps (not free)


Rocket Money



Gerstley, F. A. (2018). 30-Day money cleanse: Take control of your finances, manage your spending, and de-stress your money. Sourcebooks. 

Hay, T. (2020). Napkin finance: Build your wealth in 30 seconds or less. Dey Street Books. 

Huffstetler, E., says:, B. A. R. B. A. R. A. S. E. I. T. Z., says:, E. H., says:, L. H., says:, R. H., says:, R., says:, I. S. R., says:, D. B., says:, A., says:, R. N., & Says:, M. (2022, June 28). Printable monthly budget worksheet. My Frugal Home. Retrieved January 16, 2023, from 

McClanahan, A. (2020). How a mother should talk about money with her daughter: A step-by-step guide to budgeting, saving, investing, and other important lessons. Allworth Press. 

Mill, A. (2020). Personal finance 101: From saving and investing to taxes and loans, an essential primer on Personal Finance: From saving and investing to taxes and loans, an essential primer on Personal Finance. Adams Media. 

The Stress in America, the State of our Nation. American Psychological Association (A.P.A.). (2017, November 1). Retrieved January 15, 2023, from 

Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, January 11). Smart criteria. Wikipedia. Retrieved January 16, 2023, from 

 Solutions – Repayment resources (


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