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How to prioritise and achieve your short, medium and long-term savings goals

Achieving your savings goals is not always easy, but with the right approach, it can be done. By understanding the importance of each goal and taking practical steps, you can make significant progress towards financial stability and future success.

In this article, we will explore various techniques and approaches to help you prioritise and achieve your savings goals at every stage. Whether you’re saving for an emergency fund to cover any unexpected expenses, making a down payment on a house, or planning for retirement, these strategies will provide you with the guidance and motivation you need to turn your financial dreams into a reality.

Setting goals is a key component of successful financial planning. It’s important to have short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals to work towards. This helps you avoid falling into unhealthy discretionary spending habits and makes you more likely to think twice before making unnecessary purchases.

How to set financial goals

Setting financial goals is an essential part of planning for your future. It’s an opportunity to envision where you want to be in the short-, medium-, and long-term. While not everyone enjoys planning, creating a list of savings goals can provide clarity and help you focus on what’s important to you.

To begin, you can choose between using an app or the traditional pen and paper method to map out your ambitions. This will help you identify, prioritise, and keep all savings goals in mind. By breaking them down into savings categories, you can better plan and allocate your resources accordingly.

how to prioritise and achieve your short, medium and long-term savings goals

If you have multiple goals, it’s important to keep each one separate. Many banks offer different accounts specifically designed for short-term and long-term savings. Visiting your bank’s local branch or scheduling an appointment with a financial advisor can provide you with guidance on the best options available to suit your needs.

By setting clear and achievable financial goals, you can create a roadmap towards financial success and ensure that you are making progress towards your desired future.

How to save

Saving for short, medium, and long-term goals requires a careful financial plan and discipline. There’s no one way to build up your savings and it comes down to whichever method works best for you. The most important aspect to saving is ensuring that it doesn’t take priority over your financial obligations.

Here are some strategies to help you achieve your savings goals at different time horizons:

Short-term savings goals (0-1 year)

Short-term savings goals tend to be goals that can be achieved within a short span of 12 months. These are your more current objectives that you hope to achieve either within a few weeks, months or anywhere up to two years.

Here are some ways to save for your short-term savings goals:

Set specific and realistic targets

Determine the exact amount you need to save and by when. For example, saving for a vacation or a down payment on a car.

Create a budget

By creating a monthly budget, you can track your monthly expenses on a monthly basis and identify areas where you can cut back to allocate more money towards your short-term goals.

Automate savings

Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to a separate accounts dedicated to your short-term goals.

Consider high-yield savings accounts

Look for accounts that offer competitive interest rates to help your money grow faster.

Examples of short-term savings goals

  • Emergency fund
  • Small holiday
  • Extravagant purchase
  • Weddings
  • Annual basis events (Christmas, birthdays, anniversary, etc.)
  • Home and car repairs

Medium-term savings goals

Medium-term savings goals are where you start to think about putting big plans into motion, generally ranging from two to five years. Here is where we may begin to consider high interest savings accounts that are not as easily accessible as your standard everyday account. If you’re not looking to access your savings for a number of years, your money may begin to generate interest which accumulates over time.

Here are some ways to save for your medium-term savings goals:

Prioritise goals

Rank your medium-term goals based on importance and urgency. This will help with your savings allocation over time.

Review and adjust

On a regular basis, assess your savings progress towards your medium-term goals and make necessary adjustments to your savings plan.

Examples of medium-term savings goals

  • Family holiday
  • New car
  • House deposit
  • Home renovations
  • Paying off credit card debt
how to prioritise and achieve your short, medium and long-term savings goals

Long-term savings goals

Long-term savings goals are all about working towards your life’s grand design, where and how you imagine yourself settling down. These are your five year plus goals.

If you’re considering increasing your super fund for retirement, you can speak with your employer’s payroll to make additional contributions. Or if you have a mortgage, you can make additional payments to a linked offset account in order to reduce the interest charged on your home loan.

Examples of long-term savings goals

  • Paying off a mortgage
  • Investment properties
  • Superannuation (Retirement savings)

How to prioritise your savings goals

Prioritising can be a difficult step of the process. One the one hand, saving is important but on the other, we all have financial responsibilities and obligations.

If you’re wondering how to get the savings ball rolling and aren’t sure which method is best, we recommend writing a pros and cons list for each:

One at a time

The first method has you focusing on one savings goal at a time, allowing you to put all of your surplus towards one goal and ticking them off rapidly.

For example, if your weekly income is $1200/week and your weekly expenses are $800/week, you’d put $400/week towards your first goal. If your first goal is a small holiday which you’ve worked out to cost you $2400, this means that you should have your desired amount in six weeks. Once you’ve crossed this goal off of the list, you can then work towards that new TV for the living room, which you’ll then move that $200/week over to the new goal.

The downside to this method is that it can be quite easy to get wrapped up in the here and now and you can lose sight of your long-term savings goals.


  • Achieve your goals quickly
  • Sense of achievement


  • Easy to lose sight of your long-term savings goals

The Snowball Method

The Snowball Method aims to work out every short-, medium- and long-term saving goal that you wish to achieve and determine when you wish to achieve them.

For example, this could be one family’s ambitious savings goals:


  • Emergency fund ($2000 to achieve in three months)
  • Small holiday ($3000 to achieve in 12 months)


  • House deposit ($40,000 to achieve in five years)


  • Retirement savings ($200,000 in 30 years)

In this example, let’s use an average surplus of $200/week.

To build that emergency savings fund in three months, that means we’ll need to put aside $154/week ($2000 ÷ 13 and round-up). This leaves us with $46/week excess, so we can put $20/week on the small holiday, $15/week towards the house deposit savings in a medium-term savings account and $10/week towards the retirement fund in a long-term savings account.

Once we’ve reached our emergency fund goal, we’re then back to being able to distribute $200/week again but this time, we can shift our focus to the next goal. By this time, we’ve managed to put $260 towards the small holiday, which means we have nine months to save the remaining $2740. So by following the same rule, we’d divide the remaining balance over the remaining 39 weeks in the year ($2740 ÷ 39 = $70). Now all of a sudden, we have $130/week to work towards our medium and long-term savings goals. With this, we increase our house deposit savings to $100/week and our retirement savings to $30/week.

By following this method in 12 months, we would’ve managed to:

  • Save $2000 in an emergency fund
  • Save $3000 for a small holiday
  • Save $4095 towards a house deposit
  • Save $1300 towards a retirement savings

How else can I save?

Everyone’s financial situation is unique and what may work for one person may not work for another.

Let’s say you’re using The Snowball Method like our previous example and you wish you had more going into your house deposit savings to speed up the process. If you’re expecting a tax return, you could perhaps shave a few months off of saving for that small holiday. In addition, you can set a rule of thumb for yourself that any income you get from overtime can go towards tackling the short-term financial goals quicker so you can concentrate more on your longer-term goals.

FURTHER READING: Our ultimate guide to saving money

How can MyBudget help me to achieve my short-, medium- and long-term savings goals?

If you’re looking to get serious about your savings goals and want to implement a strategy to work towards them, then MyBudget can help you on your journey. MyBudget will help you to set up a realistic budget, giving you extra motivation through those bad times while ensuring that your essential expenses are being paid on time.

For a free appointment , give us a call on 1300 300 922 or enquire online.

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This article has been prepared for information purposes only, and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information in this article you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.