Strategies to Help You Reach Your Savings Goals
Reaching any major milestone requires time, patience and commitment. And that’s especially true when it comes to saving money. It’s all too easy to have the best intentions, without ever making real progress toward your savings goals. After all, each paycheck can only stretch so far.
Fortunately though, there are some simple, proven things you can do to keep you motivated and help you reach your savings goals. Let’s take a look at them:
Set SMART Goals
Setting clear goals helps you create structure around an abstract idea. Setting SMART goals makes it easier by giving you a framework for what your goal should be. Just saying, “I want to save money,” without having a plan in place won’t get you very far. SMART goals are:
- Specific — Specify the total amount you want to save
- Measureable — Break it down into how much you need to set aside each payday
- Achievable — Make it ambitious, but realistic
- Relevant — Save for something that’s important to you, such as paying off debt or putting a down payment on a home
- Time-bound — Give yourself an end date to create a sense of urgency
Find Your Why
While closely tied to your goal, everyone’s “why” for saving money is going to be slightly different. For example, take the goal of saving enough money to pay off credit card debt. One person’s “why” might be to reduce financial stress, while another person’s “why” might be having more money available for travel. Your “why” is a powerful reminder of the reason you’re saving money. Write it on post-its and stick them to your credit and debit cards so you will think of it when you’re tempted to spend.
Get an Accountability Partner
It’s always easier to reach a goal when you have someone else cheering you on or helping you get back on track. Ask a trusted friend or family member if they will be your accountability partner. Let them know your savings goal and your “why.” Then ask them to check in on your progress periodically. Keep in mind it should be someone who is willing to be honest with you when you slip up and happy for you when you make progress.
Just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. In fact, you should! Celebrating small milestones on your way to achieving a larger goal is a great way to stay motivated. You can reward yourself both for achieving savings milestones and for behavioral changes, such as taking your lunch to work instead of going out to eat.
Forgive Mistakes and Move On
Any long-term journey is going to have some detours along the way, and saving money is no different. But don’t let a slip-up keep you from getting back on track toward your ultimate goal. Talk over the mistake with your accountability partner and come up with strategies to avoid repeating it in the future. And if there’s a simple fix, such as returning something you purchased with money you should have put into savings, do it.