Secure Your Future with a GOALs Based Plan

Imagine you’ve been investing your savings for major milestones like buying a new home, taking the family on that dream vacation, or funding your kids’ college education. But when the time comes to use your savings, you discover they’re not as ready as you thought—maybe your assets have lost value, the taxes involved would derail your financial plans, or you’d face a stiff penalty for withdrawing funds.

What happened? You saved consistently, and your investments seemed to be on track with general market returns. You even had a financial plan, but somehow, it didn’t work out.

Perhaps your financial plan simply never aligned with your specific financial milestones. 

Traditional Financial Planning Approaches

Prior to the 2007-2008 financial crisis, many financial plans emphasized wealth accumulation, often overlooking the need for strategic asset allocation tailored to individual financial goals. Unfortunately, many Americans had financial plans that didn’t factor in a sudden 20% drop in the markets that occurred during the crisis, forcing them to delay retirement. 

Those who were young without any immediate financial needs for those savings could simply ride things out until markets recovered  – which they did, eventually. But how many others suddenly couldn’t afford other major milestones is impossible to say, but it’s fair to guess many plans were derailed. 

A traditional financial plan often involves locking your savings in long-term, tax-advantaged accounts that aren’t suitable for accessing funds early without facing penalties and heavy taxes. 

For instance, at age 40, your portfolio might be 60% stocks and 40% bonds, and as a firefighter, primarily in your IRA or, if you have a side hustle, potentially a Solo 401(K). This setup is great if your goal is just to maximize retirement savings, but it might not help when you need funds for other life events. 

Since 2008, a new strategy has become popular. It doesn’t solely focus on long-term wealth generation but takes a more nuanced and holistic approach to one’s financial situation and attempts to capture every possible parameter and variable.     

Goals-Based Financial Plans

This approach is vastly different. It starts with identifying clear, immediate, and future financial goals. Whether those goals are short, medium, or long-term, you select investments based on those specific goals.

The S.M.A.R.T. Strategy

To ensure your financial plans are effective, use the S.M.A.R.T. system:

Specific: Set concrete goals.

Measurable: Calculate the monthly savings required, considering potential returns.

Achievable: Adjust your budget to save a determined amount each month.

Relevant: Ensure the goal supports your long-term financial security and family stability.

Time-bound: Aim to reach your goal within a set timeframe, like three years.

For example, if you’re planning to buy a house in five years, overloading your savings with volatile stocks or locking them in a retirement account might not be the best idea – the markets could crash the year of your purchase, leaving you without that planned roof over your head. Instead, you might seek high-grade bonds and CDs, which are much more likely to provide you with the consistent growth you need within your timeframe.

Alternatively, if your goal is to obtain a $600,000 retirement fund to supplement your pension, you’d likely want a sizeable amount of riskier growth-oriented stocks and index funds for that specific goal. You can think of it like this: each goal has its own portfolio, its own contribution strategy, asset allocation strategy, and rebalancing strategy. 

Goals-Centric Allocations

SMART Goals Visualization

Vacation Fund

New Car Fund

Education Fund

Home Down Payment

For Educational Purposes – Your Allocation and Results Will Vary

Setting Up S.M.A.R.T., Goal-Based Portfolios

  • Save $6,000 for a vacation in one year: Utilize high-yield savings accounts, short-term certificates of deposit (CDs), and money market accounts to optimize growth.
  • Save $35,000 for a new car in four years: Invest in bonds and conservative mutual funds to balance risk and return.
  • Save $60,000 for your children’s higher education in 10 years: Explore options like 529 college savings plans; begin with an aggressive strategy, and rebalance to more conservative options later.
  • Accumulate $600,000 for retirement in 20 years: Employ a diversified investment strategy that evolves with market changes.

Side Benefits of Goals-Based Planning

Enhanced Risk Management: This planning method strategically allocates investments across different time horizons and risk profiles associated with each goal. Potentially minimizes potential losses without passing up on the growth necessary to reach long-term goals, such as retirement. 

Psychological Rewards: As you see how you get closer and closer to specific financial goals, your results will reinforce your positive financial behaviors and strengthen your resolve, leading to greater overall happiness and improved discipline.

Progress Chart

SMART Financial Goals Progress
For Visual and Educational Purposes Only – Your Results Will Vary

Prevents Capital Misallocation: Goals-based planning ensures funds are available when needed. It prevents situations where you may seem financially stable on paper, such as having a lot of money locked up in stocks but lacking accessible cash for immediate needs. 

Adaptable to Changing Circumstances: Unlike rigid financial plans, goals-based planning offers enhanced flexibility, enabling easier adjustments in response to life changes, market conditions, or shifts in financial priorities.


You don’t want to risk not having the funds you need when you need them, especially when the bulk of your savings – your firefighter pension – is locked away from reach until retirement. Until then, you’re on your own to develop the savings you need on your timeline. 

Crafting a traditional financial plan isn’t simple, but it doesn’t always require an in-depth understanding of your financial status and goals. Consulting a financial professional who understands the unique financial milestones firefighters face can be invaluable. They can craft a plan that aligns perfectly with your lifestyle and goals, ensuring you’re ready for whatever life throws your way.

Ready to start planning your financial future?

Click below to schedule a no-obligation consultation and learn more about our tailored financial strategies for firefighters.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, this is not intended as tax, legal, or financial advice. One should always consult with the tax, legal, and financial professionals of their choosing regarding their specific situation.

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