Starting the New Year Off Right with Goal Setting

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! My name is Sean Cooper. I’m a personal finance journalist and bestselling author. I’m also known as the “burn your mortgage” guy for when I burned my mortgage papers on national TV three years ago. I’m excited to be writing the first blog post in a series of semi-monthly blog posts on real estate and homeownership. Be sure to check out the feeDuck website for new blogs on a regular basis. Without further ado, let’s get started!

New Year’s, it’s the perfect time to celebrate and reflect on the year that was. You can give yourself a well-deserved pat on back for everything you did right in 2018 and plan out your road map to success for everything that you’d like to accomplish in 2019. A good way to do that is through New Year’s Resolutions or goal setting.

Let’s say you want to own a home. Unfortunately, that down payment isn’t going to save itself. (Wouldn’t that be nice?) You’ll need to come up with a game plan and put it into action. The sad reality is that many of our New Year’s Resolutions fail. We sign up for a gym membership in January and vow to get in better shape, yet by the time February rolls around, we haven’t been inside the gym since the day we signed up. We’re all guilty of this.

This may surprise you to hear, but stats show that two-thirds of those who sign up for the gym never step foot inside. Yikes! With the odds clearly stacked against you when it comes to goal setting, what can you do to better your chances? Thankfully, there’s plenty!

In this article I’m going to show you how to set a financial goal and actually keep it. It all starts with SMART goal setting.


Setting a SMART Goal

Saving a down payment or an emergency fund may seem like daunting tasks, but through goal setting, suddenly it seems achievable. Many people ask me how I saved up a $170,000 down payment and paid off my mortgage in three years. I’m going to let you in on my secret. I owe much of my success to goal setting.

While setting goals is a good start, it’s not enough. You need to take it a step further by setting SMART goal. “SMART ” is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound.” SMART goals help you break down long-term goals into mini-goals. Suddenly goals like saving a down payment seem possible.

Let’s say you want to own a townhouse in Toronto. Instead of saying you’d like to buy a townhouse “one day,” it helps to get more specific with a SMART goal. Here’s an example of a SMART goal you could set for yourself.

Specific: I want to purchase a townhouse in the suburbs of Toronto.

Measurable: I will “pay myself first” by setting up a preauthorized savings plan at my bank.

Attainable: I will save $250 per week in a high-interest savings account.

Relevant: I can get my foot in the door of the Toronto real estate market and start building up equity.

Time-Bound: I will save up a down payment of $39,000 in three years.

When you say you’re going to save $250 per week, doesn’t it seem a lot more achievable than coming up with a down payment of $39,000? By setting yourself smart goal and automating your savings with a preauthorized savings plan at your bank, you’ll be a lot more likely to achieve your goal.

It may not always seem this way, but the government wants to encourage homeownership. In the next article, we’ll take it a step further by looking at ways to effective save and take advantage of government programs to come up with your down payment even sooner.


Written by Sean Cooper

Sean Cooper is the bestselling author of the book, Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple, Powerful Path to Financial Freedom for Canadians. He bought his first house when he was only 27 in Toronto and paid off his mortgage in just 3 years by age 30. Sean’s helping others burn their mortgage, too, as an independent mortgage broker. For an unbiased second opinion on your mortgage, email or call 647-867-3711.

Sean Cooper