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Examples of Intermediate and Medium-Term Financial Goals


Intermediate and medium-term financial goals generally refer to goals that are set for a period ranging from a few years to a decade. These financial goals can help you bridge the gap between short-term needs and long-term aspirations. Examples can include saving for a down payment on a home, funding a child’s education and building an emergency fund.

A financial advisor who offers planning services can help you pursue financial goals large and small. Connect with a fiduciary financial advisor today.

What Are Intermediate Financial Goals?

Intermediate financial goals are financial objectives set to be achieved within a mid-range time frame, typically spanning one to five years. However, some intermediate financial goals may be achieved in as many as 10 years.

Intermediate goals are often aligned with significant life events or financial milestones. They require a well-thought-out strategy that balances ambition with realistic planning. The timeline allows for more complex financial strategies compared to short-term goals but remains flexible enough to adjust as circumstances change.

Examples of Intermediate Financial Goals

An intermediate financial goal is an object that can be achieved in one to five years, and sometimes up to 10 years.

Setting intermediate financial goals involves assessing current financial status, defining clear targets and outlining specific steps to reach them. These goals help maintain financial momentum, ensuring progress towards larger, overarching financial aspirations. Here are five examples intermediate financial goals:

1. Building an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is one of the most critical intermediate financial goals. This fund is your safety net in the event that you have unexpected expenses or lose your job. Typically, it’s recommended to save three to six months’ worth of living expenses. This ensures you have a financial cushion to handle unforeseen circumstances without derailing your overall financial plan. However, depending on your income and/or budget, building a fully funded emergency account could take you well over a year.

2. Saving for a Down Payment on a Home

Saving for a down payment is another common intermediate goal. Homeownership is a significant milestone, and accumulating a substantial down payment can reduce mortgage costs and improve loan terms. Aiming for at least 20% of the home’s purchase price can help avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI) and secure better interest rates. This savings goal often spans several years and requires disciplined budgeting and saving.

3. Paying Off Student Loan Debt

Addressing student loan debt is another intermediate financial goal for many individuals. The average combined student loan debt (from both federal and private loans) was just under $40,000 in 2023, according to the Education Data Initiative. Prioritizing loan repayment can free up future income for other financial pursuits. Strategies include making extra payments, refinancing for lower interest rates or consolidating loans. Reducing or eliminating student loan debt not only decreases financial stress but also improves overall financial health, making it easier to focus on other goals.

4. Saving for Home Improvements

Home improvements can enhance the value and enjoyment of your property. Whether planning a major renovation or smaller upgrades, saving for these projects is an essential intermediate goal. This can involve setting aside a specific amount each month into a dedicated home improvement fund. Proper planning and saving ensure you can undertake these projects without resorting to high-interest loans or credit cards.

5. Saving for Your Child’s Education

Education costs continue to rise, making it essential to start saving early for your child’s future. Establishing a college fund, such as a 529 plan, can provide significant tax advantages and grow over time. This intermediate financial goal requires careful planning to estimate future education costs and determine how much to save regularly.

Intermediate Financial Goals vs. Short- and Long-Term Goals

A couple looks over the progress they've made toward their long-term goal of retiring abroad.

While intermediate financial goals span one to five years – sometimes extending up to a decade – short-term goals are objectives to be achieved in under a year. These may include saving for a vacation, starting an emergency fund or paying off minor debts. Short-term goals require straightforward planning and immediate action, often involving budgeting and disciplined saving habits.

Long-term goals, on the other hand, are typically set for periods exceeding 10 years. These big-picture objectives usually require a much longer planning process than most short- and intermediate financial goals. These may encompass major life achievements such as retirement planning or creating a plentiful estate that your heirs will inherit one day.

Of course, what constitutes an intermediate financial goal isn’t set in stone. Depending on your financial situation, you may view building an emergency fund as a relatively attainable short-term goal. Then again, saving enough for a down payment on a house could take you well over 10 years, making it a long-term goal.

Bottom Line

Intermediate financial goals can help you achieve financial stability and future security. These goals often take between one and five years, although some can have a 10-year window. Common examples of intermediate financial goals are establishing a substantial emergency fund, preparing for homeownership, paying student loan debt, financing home improvements and saving for your child’s education.

Financial Planning Tips

  • Maintain an emergency fund with enough money to cover between three and six months worth of living expenses. An emergency fund should be liquid – in an account that isn’t at risk of significant fluctuation like the stock market. The tradeoff is that the value of liquid cash can be eroded by inflation. But a high-interest account allows you to earn compound interest. Compare savings accounts from these banks.
  • Financial planning can encompass a range of services and areas of need, from setting goals, planning for your children’s educations, saving for retirement and more. That’s where a financial advisor can help. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

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