Saving For A Goal

A Step-By-Step Guide

Many of us have a “Bucket List” — a collection of things we want to do or accomplish one day. Perhaps a trip to Italy, surf lessons, or buying a house is on yours. But is your list a wish list or a goals list? There’s a big difference. Goals have a clear-cut plan for achievement, and a big part of that plan is typically money. If you’re serious about crossing items off your bucket list, then you have to devote some time to understanding exactly how you’re going to finance your plans. Here’s how.

Take Your Goal From Vague to Specific
Exactly what does your goal look like? How many years do you think it will take you to get there? A good goal will be very specific and incorporate a timetable. You should be able to see your goal as well. If your eyes are on the prize for a trip to Paris, take a photo of the Eiffel Tower and put it on your fridge, or make it your phone’s screensaver, advises Carrie Rattle, founder of Behavioral Cents. Not only will this keep your motivation high, visual reminders can also help dissuade you from making unnecessary purchases.

Decide Exactly How Much You Need To Save
Before you set your goal-realizing timeline, take a look at your total income and do an in-depth analysis to find out exactly what your available spending budget is, says CFP Board Ambassador Lynn Ballou. Next, calculate exactly how much of that budget you’ll be able to set aside for your specific goals — and chart out how long it will take you at that rate of saving to get there. Big goals may make you realize you need additional income. If so, then this exercise may be the motivation you need to take on a side hustle or make a career move that may be more lucrative for you.

Set Up a Separate Savings Account
Behavioral finance research has shown that separating money you’re putting toward specific goals actually helps you achieve them — it’s called “mental accounting.” Once you’ve got a separate account set up for your goal, automatically transfer money into this account from your checking each month, so you don’t even have to think about it.

Curtail The Retail Therapy
If you’re tempted by promotional emails advertising big sales “Today Only!” or bargains that “Expire This Weekend,” it’s time for an end run. Unsubscribe. Don’t worry about FOMO — If there’s a specific item you need, then you’ll know to search for it and purchase it when you need it. Even if you think you won’t be tempted, think again. According to a Finder.com survey, 64% of people make an impulse purchase every month, spending an average of $81.75 each time. Imagine how much quicker you’d be able to reach your goals if you were able to put that much money aside every month? Think about that the next time you’re tempted to click “place order.”

Have Regular Check-Ins With Yourself
If you were trying to lose weight, you might get on a new healthy diet to help you reach your goals. You’d also probably weigh yourself weekly to see if your diet was working efficiently, rather than waiting until the three months were up and then hopping on a scale. Saving for a financial goal is no different — you have to have regular check-ins with yourself. They are “the heart and soul of a successful plan,” Ballou says, and you should aim to check in at least monthly on your progress to make sure you’re on track, and make any adjustments necessary.

With Megi Meskhi

Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky