Saving more money is one of those enormous goals that many people have but fail to achieve. I know because I used to be in that situation. The year would pass by, and I was still no closer to my goal. I’d lay awake at night trying to figure out how to achieve my savings goal with only a few months remaining. It took some time, but I eventually devised a plan that allowed me to meet my big savings goal while going way over my intended budget during the summer vacation. Don’t worry if you’re gazing at the calendar and can’t see a way forward.
I’d like to provide five tips for being a smart saver that finds it easy to save more consistently while still having fun!
1. Make a Visual Reminder of Your Objective
The first step is to make a visual representation of what you’re saving towards. I know it seems ridiculous, but this step has helped professional athletes achieve some of their most important goals. If you rely just on willpower, you risk losing motivation or losing sight of the bigger picture.
Yes, you must be disciplined when it comes to saving, but you can make it a lot easier on yourself if you design things to inspire and push you through. Visual reminders are an excellent method to do this. Take a photo of the place you’re heading to if you’re saving for a trip. If you’re planning to buy a house soon, make your screensaver an image of what you’d want to have.
Why should you do this? Because unexpected windfalls, such as getting a large bonus, winning the lottery, or inheriting money, are rare. Therefore, the money that you need to achieve your dreams needs to come from somewhere else. Your visual reminder helps to keep you on track and makes you realize that you’re not just saying no to everything. Instead, you’re saying yes to what’s important to you.
2. Set Weekly Savings Targets
The second stage is to set a weekly savings target. That’s all.
We sometimes think about at this enormous figure in our head and it might seem intimidating. But if we break it down into smaller chunks, it becomes much more achievable. You’ll be more driven to complete the task.
Break it down into a weekly goal of how much money you’re going to save this week. Whether it’s $100, $50, or even $20, if you can keep it up, you can save a lot of money each month. This strategy is especially useful because things vary from week to week. Maybe you won’t save as much this week, but you’re not anxious about it.
It can happen. However, when you look at it on a weekly basis, you don’t feel discouraged because you know that next week you’ll save a little bit more because it’s a calmer week.
3. Maintain and Examine Your Financial Situation
The next stage is to have a system in place for tracking and reviewing your money. Here’s where you can get excited: it can practically be done for you. How, you may wonder?
Apps like Mint or Simplifi make it possible to check on all of your accounts in under five minutes. Things became so much easier when I moved to having an app fetch all of my numbers. How are my savings doing? How is my cash flow? How are things with my bills? Do I need to make any sacrifices?
These were questions that used to take a long time to answer. It’s now as simple as opening my phone and checking the figures in real time. It enables me to spend less time on the mundane and more time on the big picture.
Budgeting apps like these are really useful, since they not only collect data but also make it extremely easy to evaluate what you’re doing well and what areas you need to pay attention to.
4. Gamify Your Savings
OK, I get it – sometimes (actually, most of the time), the prospect of saving money is enticing. That is why I strongly advise you to attempt to gamify things. Do a month-long money challenge.
I’ve done them and had a great time. Why is that? Because they’re entertaining, and they’re only necessary for a limited time, so you may be a little more passionate with your savings for a brief period before taking a break.
Are you unsure as to what to do? Here are some of the challenges I’ve completed:
- If your partner is hesitant to make changes, this is the challenge for them! You don’t need to make any changes to your expenses. Instead, simply keep track of what you spend each day and how many days you spend absolutely nothing. This opened my eyes to all of the minor costs that sum up towards the end of the month. I bet you’ll spend less money the next month as a result of this challenge.
- Date Night for $20: Reminisce about your college days and look for methods to enjoy a memorable and entertaining night without emptying your wallet. What free and low-cost activities are available in your city?
- The $500 in 30 Days Challenge is a 30-day challenge in which you must raise $500 in 30 days. In only one month, you can establish or add to your emergency fund with this simple yet powerful challenge. Begin by setting aside $1 on the first day, then $2 on the second, $3 on the third, and so on. It may not appear to be much, but if you send in that $30 on the last day, you’ll have $465 saved up. Seeing so much money saved so fast will motivate you to deposit the final $35 to make it an even $500!
Don’t forget to let your children be part of the fun as well! A little friendly competition in the family might help to motivate everyone and show your kids that you’re serious about saving. It also teaches them about the value of money in a fun way.
5. Your Savings Should Be Automated and Scheduled
Finally, the final step is critical because I believe that sometimes we become overly enthusiastic about the money we save just to discover that it is not in the account.
When you start saving money, be sure to automate and plan it!
If you and your partner have resolved to save a certain amount this week, be sure to actually transfer it into your savings account. Additional savings, such as a discount you got from politely reaching out to your cable provider, vehicle insurance, or mobile phone company, should also be transferred into your savings account. This will keep you on track and lessen the temptation to spend the money if it is still in your bank account.
Your Turn to Start Saving
I hope these quick tips are as useful to you as they were to me. When you make saving a habit and learn how to save more consistently it will open up a world of possibilities for you. Try out any of these suggestions and see how it goes. You can finish strong this year and save for your major money goal!