Take Advantage of the Pay Increase – Set SMART Goals

by Mandi Moynihan, CFP® on Wednesday December 13, 2023
Posted in Category: Saving
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Wow! Can someone please tell me where 2023 went?

In all seriousness, as we count down the final days of the year, I hope you enjoy a little R&R. If you can find a moment, I recommend you stop, reflect and celebrate your achievements this year – both big and small. Reflecting on life’s victories is good for your mental health, and fuels your motivation. Then, harness this positive mindset as you start to establish your goals for 2024.

Make sure to complete a Financial Health Assessment with New Year’s resolution season around the corner, and start thinking smart, as in setting SMART goals. By following this simple method, you’ll increase the likelihood of achieving those financial resolutions.

SMART Goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound

Let’s put this SMART framework into practice using some real dollars. Service members are expected see a 5.2% pay increase starting in January, which is the largest increase in two decades and welcome news for many military budgets. You’ve likely earmarked this money to keep up with the rising costs of everything however, this extra money represents a golden opportunity to tackle other goals.

Let’s assume you want to save money for a family vacation next holiday season. Here’s how the SMART goal process can help identify the actions you need to take.

Specific – I want to save $1,200 to help pay for a family vacation next holiday season.
Measurable – I’m going to save $50 per pay period.
Attainable – I’ve updated my budget for the new year with the pay increase and am able to set aside this money without missing other bills or critical expenses.
Relevant – We haven’t taken a vacation in a couple of years due to training and deployments, so we are overdue for a trip together.
Time-bound – I want to save this money by December 2024.

Clearly articulating your goals and how to get there using the SMART method prepares you to face the new year with confidence.

The USAA Educational Foundation team wishes you and your family a great start to the New Year. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn for timely financial resources delivered right to your fingertips.


The USAA Educational Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt IRS 501(c)(3) and cannot endorse or promote any commercial supplier, product, or service. The content of this blog is intended for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice.