Winning With a Goals-Based Financial Plan

Winning With a Goals-Based Financial Plan

by Brandon Miller on Nov 26, 2019

Financial Planning, Education

Even if you’re not a soccer fan, you’ve probably heard the iconic “GOOOOOOOOOOAL!” call of Telemundo announcer Andres Cantor. The joy in his voice as he stretches out the word over a massive breath is infectious. That 20-second call seems to pay tribute to everything that went into placing the ball at the back of the net—from coaching and practice, to encouragement, teamwork and overcoming obstacles.   

I think Mr. Cantor has the right idea. Goals are meant to be celebrated. Of course, you have to set them before you can accomplish them. 

And that’s particularly true for financial planning. Investing just to make more money is not nearly as motivating or rewarding as investing in a dream. At my company, we spend a lot of time talking to clients about what they want to accomplish so we can create a financial plan that helps them live that life. Here are some things I’ve found work well in helping people articulate their ambitions:

Discover Why You Want What You Want

Goal setting is hard because it’s abstract. It forces you to think of possibilities while also facing reality. And it can be hard for some people to separate their own dreams from family or societal expectations.

So be as detailed about your money goals as possible. Ask yourself probing questions —or better yet, have someone else ask them. When I play this role, I’m like a pesky three-year-old constantly asking “Why?” of my clients. Digging deeper into a vague goal may reveal the real dream, and open up new possibilities, such as turning a hobby envisioned for retirement into a side business now. It’s not unusual to refine—or redefine—your goals in the process of setting them.

Being specific about what you want is the first step in setting SMART goals, with the MART being Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound (meaning a target date).

Write It Down 

I’m a big proponent of creating a vision board, a collage of your dreams that you can refer to when you need a reminder of what you’re working so hard for. It’s sounds dorky, but it’s amazingly effective.

Vision board or no, you should definitely immortalize what you want on paper. Your brain will find it easier to store the thought and you’ll have a handy visual cue. Plus, a 2016 study showed that the simple act of writing down your goals makes you 42% likelier to achieve them. ‘Nuff said.

Prioritize Competing Interests

So you want to save a couple mil for retirement, travel to every world capital, remodel your kitchen and send your mom a little extra every month to supplement her Social Security. Which one is most important? Do you have a partner (or two) with different priorities?

One useful exercise is to imagine you have $100 to invest. How much would you put toward each goal? Giving your goals a priority ranking can help you decide things like should you alter your timelines or shed lesser dreams. 

Break Your Goals Into Manageable Bits

That old saying about eating an elephant one bite at a time applies to your major goals, too. Don’t look at how much you have to save for a downpayment on a house. Look at what you can put away each month to reach that amount. Keep the focus on what you can do today, not how far you have to go.

Track Your Progress Regularly

Hold yourself accountable, whether that’s an app that monitors your advancement or someone who can nudge you along and keep you focused. You can keep it interesting by doing things like betting a friend that you can save a thousand a month for a year or you’ll have to do their laundry for two months. 

Celebrate Your Wins

Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back as you go along. Milestone celebrations help keep you motivated and reward you for your planning and discipline. And they remind you of how much fun it will be to actually achieve that dream.

As for when you do finally cross the goal line? Well, I suggest taking a deep breath and proclaiming to the world, “GOOOOOOOOOOAL!”

If you would like to learn more about how our firm can you help you score your financial GOAL, please contact us at 833-623-2450 or

Brandon Miller, CFP®, is a financial consultant at Brio Financial Group in San Francisco, specializing in helping LGBT individuals and families plan and achieve their financial goals.

The opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security. Brio does not provide tax or legal advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. As always please remember investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital; please seek advice from a licensed professional.

Brio Financial Group is a registered investment adviser. SEC Registration does not constitute an endorsement of Brio by the SEC nor does it indicate that Brio has attained a particular level of skill or ability. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Brio Financial Group and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Brio Financial Group unless a client service agreement is in place.