While we’ve talked before about setting goals for yourself, we’ve never talked about dreams. It’s common for people to have big dreams about their future: a dream job, a dream house, a dream car. There is nothing wrong with dreams, as long as you stay grounded by setting goals.

What’s the real difference between a dream and a goal? If your dream is to own a vacation home on a lake, isn’t that also your goal? Not exactly. Here are the definitions of the two words from Dictionary.com as it relates to this discussion:


  • to think or conceive of something in a very remote way
  • most desirable; ideal


  • the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end

Dreams are big ideas that you want for your future. We think that they can be great to have. Dreams can keep you hopeful and positive, but they can also be dangerous. Some people may get so wrapped up in what they dream for the future that they forget about the present, and the goals that could potentially help them realize their dreams.

Goals are much more tangible. You decide you are going to achieve something, and you work to do so. Goals also tend to be more short term (though not always). Your dream vacation maybe travelling through Europe in the future, but your goal is to save for a weekend away next summer.

Dreams and goals can go hand in hand. If you have a big dream that you are determined to see realized, set up goals for yourself along the way, each one to get you one step closer. If you have the vacation home by the lake dream, make your goal paying down your debt so that you can make the purchase debt free or cutting back on everyday expenses so you can afford the extra cost. Whatever you want the ultimate outcome to be, carefully plan your way one step at a time with goals.

However, for most people, dreams remain dreams. Their dreams shift and change as years go by, and they don’t make any move to make them a reality. There’s nothing wrong with that either. But set your financial goals to some future that you want to have, whether it’s a vacation house or retiring early. Whatever you want.



  • Disclaimer: The information on this blog is not meant for specific financial advice. The ideas/opinions stated are not suited for everyone, and readers should use their own judgment in applying them in their financial lives.