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Why Setting Financial Goals Changes How You Invest

You want to use your money for something in the future, right? Let's talk about how to do that effectively.

Setting goals is a smart way to help you accomplish any task.

It’s hard to run a race without a finish line; a to-do list helps you organize your day. Investing is no different.

At Betterment, we believe in developing financial goals to help you save and invest. A nice little retirement. A “just in case” safety net. A trip around the world. Your child’s education. Or a magic number you’re looking to hit. No matter what you’re saving for, setting financial goals is proven to help get you there.

An added bonus: Planning for your goals now, even if they seem far away, means you probably won’t have to save as much. That’s because you spend more time invested in the market and more time with our tax-smart technology.

What makes a good financial goal?

It’s not enough to name a goal, choose an amount, and wait for the money to appear. (Although if you figure that one out, definitely let us know.) A good financial goal, like any type of goal, takes thoughtful consideration.

First, start with something specific. What do you want to use this money for?

Next, think about how much you’ll need. Do a little research. Ask a trusted friend. Try our financial planning tools.

Finally, consider your timeline. When will you need this money? Is it flexible?

If you’re not sure of an exact goal, you can always start investing now and work it out in the future. It’s better to get started with a vague idea than to do nothing at all.

5 Types of Financial Goals at Betterment

How Goals Help Us Help You

Once you’ve set a financial goal that includes a specific goal type, an amount, and a time horizon, we can help you plan how to achieve it. We’ll advise you on the right account type for your money and the right allocation based on when you want the money and your tolerance for market ups and downs.

We’ll suggest a specific amount you can regularly invest using our auto-deposit feature. (Think saving on autopilot.) This can help you set realistic expectations—just like training for a race. Seeing what you’ll need to invest on a regular basis to achieve your goal can help you adjust your timeline or your investing priorities.

Once you’re all set up, we’ll align your financial goal with our advice. We’ll even analyze accounts outside of Betterment (once you sync them) to help you get a sense of your full financial picture. This way, you can always see how you’re tracking over time.

Setting Financial Goals

More insights on setting goals

Funding a Safety Net: Calculate Your Target Amount

Don’t know how much to set aside for emergencies? Don’t let uncertainty stop you from saving. We’ll help you figure out how much you should save so that you can feel prepared.

Retirement Planning Advice That Matches How You Save

Betterment is constantly working to align our investment advice with what it’s really like to pursue your financial goals. Learn about how our retirement planning advice continues to improve.

9 Reasons Goal-Based Investing Leads to Success

What exactly are you saving and investing for? This is a serious moment of self inquiry.

What's Next?

Set some financial goals, of course! If you’ve already got one or more in mind, you can get started right here. If you still need some time or want to dive deeper, check out our suggested articles below.

More on Financial Goals

Funding a Safety Net: Calculate Your Target Amount

Don’t know how much to set aside for emergencies? Don’t let uncertainty stop you from saving. We’ll help you figure out how much you should save so that you can feel prepared.

How To Invest When You Have Family Members With Disabilities

Having family members with disabilities requires lifelong planning that might not be easily addressed by typical financial planning advice. Planning appropriately for their lives can ensure they are protected and secure.

10 Financial To-Dos Before Your First Wedding Anniversary

Planning your financial life with your spouse can be very stressful. Here are ten considerations you should talk about before reaching your first anniversary.

5 Finance Books That Can Help You Get it Together

Ever wondered what’s on our bookshelf? We share five finance books that we love, because we’re sure they can help you on your journey to become a smarter investor.

Explore your first goal

Safety Net

This is a great place to start—an emergency fund for life's unplanned hiccups. A safety net is a conservative portfolio.


Whether it's a long way off or just around the corner, we'll help you save for the retirement you deserve.

General Investing

If you want to invest and build wealth over time, then this is the goal for you. This is an excellent goal type for unknown future needs or money you plan to pass to future generations.


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*The Betterment Everyday Savings ("Savings") annual percentage yield ("APY") is as of . Individuals who sign up for the Betterment Everyday Checking waitlist receive a APY, which includes a promotional rate increase that extends at least for the duration of 2019 and until every individual on the waitlist has an opportunity to access Checking. Additional promotional rate increase offers will be made available upon the full launch of Checking. APY is as of without the promotional rate increase. APY is a variable rate that can fluctuate daily, based on the Federal Funds Rate and terms offered by banks participating in Savings. APY may change at any time without notice. Current APY can be found here. No minimum balance is required. There is a minimum deposit of $10.

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