Ready. (Edit.) Aim. Invest.

By Sallie Krawcheck

Sometimes, a starting point can really come in handy. Think back to essay prompts in school. Or the instruction manuals from Ikea (kind of). A starting point also helps a lot when you’re trying to figure out how much money you’ll need to buy a home in a few years. Or launch a business. Or retire in the best way possible.

Back in the early days of Ellevest, we spent hours upon hours talking to women to find out what kind of help you were looking for with your money. One point that kept popping up in our conversations? It’s hard to know how much money you’ll need to reach a financial goal.

Makes sense. You have some time until retirement, so how are you supposed to know today how much money you’ll need to support your lifestyle years from now? Then there’s inflation — how can you predict what that’s going to look like? And if there’s an actual roadmap that shows where you’re going to be in your career and life situation a few years down the line … well, that would be great, actually, but sadly, it doesn’t exist.

We can help you take the guesswork out of the equation. Seriously. At Ellevest, we built investing so that you tell us the goal you’re investing for and we tell you what we recommend as a target dollar amount that will help you hit that goal — and how much to deposit to get there. (The only outlier is the Big Splurge goal. In that one, you tell us how much you want for, say, that milestone event or long-awaited trip.)

But that’s just the beginning. Customization matters a lot to us: We customize each of your investment portfolios to each of your goals, to help give you the best chance of hitting them. And we also help you customize your experience. You have the ability to customize your goal targets, your timeline for achieving them, and how frequently you invest your money to get to your goals.

All about your goals

A goal target is only as good as the information used to calculate it. At Ellevest, we use your salary or take-home pay (depending on the goal) in our calculations, factor in inflation (when relevant), and make certain assumptions to arrive at your suggested goal target.

The assumptions we use vary by goal. For the Home goal, we use Zillow data to estimate how much your dream house might cost and assume you’re making a 20% down payment, an amount that helps you get better interest rates on your mortgage.

For the Kids goal, we assume nine months of take-home pay per child will help with summer camps, big birthdays, weddings, etc. With the My Business goal, we go with the experts and assume you need to give yourself two years to see if your business has potential — so you’ll need a cushion of two years’ worth of take-home pay.

Then there’s the Retirement goal. We assume the annual income you’ll want in retirement will be equal to 90% of your salary in the year before you retire, minus taxes. We use a gender-specific salary curve from Morningstar Investment Management LLC, along with information such as your age, current salary, education level, and state of residence to calculate your pre-retirement salary.

And, finally, the Build Wealth goal is assumption-free — instead, we factor the gender, salary, and education info you gave us — on top of your goal and timeline — to create an investment portfolio specifically for you.

They’re suggestions, not requirements

If the best part of our planning process is having a starting point for your goals calculated for you, what’s the second-best part?

Being able to tweak your goal targets. The numbers we give you are suggestions — and while a lot of thought goes into them, we recognize that you may want and need a different amount for each of your goals. If you plan on buying a home with your partner, increase our suggested goal target for the Home goal. Pretty confident that you’re going to downsize and live more modestly in retirement? Then lower our suggestion for the Retirement goal.

You can adjust your goal targets in a few places. After you pick and prioritize your goals, we show you our suggested goal targets; click on “Edit” right under each goal target to make your changes.

You can tweak your goal targets by clicking into a goal at any time. We provide two numbers next to each goal; the bottom one is your goal target, which you can edit by clicking on the pencil icon. (Just so you know, you can make changes to your plan wherever you see a pencil icon on Ellevest.)

And you can also navigate to the goal planner on the top left of your screen to open up all the goals you’ve picked and edit them there.

Goal targets aren’t the only aspect of your plan that you can edit on Ellevest. The same thing goes for your timeline. We have default timelines for each goal, and you can change your horizon for all of them, depending on when you want to buy that house, start that business, or reach any of your other financial goals.

Why edit?

Because we want to give you investing recommendations that are tailored to your wants and needs as much as possible, and your input helps us do that. It makes your personalized financial plan even more ... personalized.

You can adjust the amounts as you first set up your goals, or in the goal planner tool at any time. Once you’re done adjusting, we calculate deposit recommendations based on the newly specified numbers and give you a clear view of how your money could help you reach your goals.

At Ellevest, we measure performance in terms of progress made toward your financial goals: We consider you “on track” when you’re likely to reach your goal target or higher in 70% of markets and “off track” when that likelihood falls to 60% or lower. (By the way, being off track doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t reach your goal target, but we think the extra confidence that comes with being on track doesn’t hurt.)

Making your goal targets bigger or smaller can affect whether or not you’re on track for your goals. But you can easily edit your timelines and deposit recommendations to stay on track. We show you — in real time — how changing our recommendations can get you on track or off track.

There’s not much that feels more “personal” than your money and financial goals. That’s why we built so many customization tools into the Ellevest platform — so that your investing experience can be truly yours.


© 2023 Ellevest, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

All opinions and views expressed by Ellevest are current as of the date of this writing, are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute or imply an endorsement of any third party’s products or services.

Information was obtained from third-party sources, which we believe to be reliable but are not guaranteed for accuracy or completeness.

The information provided should not be relied upon as investment advice or recommendations, does not constitute a solicitation to buy or sell securities, and should not be considered specific legal, investment, or tax advice.

The information provided does not take into account the specific objectives, financial situation, or particular needs of any specific person.

Investing entails risk, including the possible loss of principal, and past performance is not predictive of future results. Ellevest, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser.

Ellevest fees and additional information can be found at

A newsletter you’ll love

Get all the news, advice, and must-know info on women, money, and career.

Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck is the Founder & CEO of Ellevest.