You’re all excited and energized. You have a savings goal in place. You’ve set your budget and you’re rocking and rolling. Ready to get your emergency fund, future home or much-needed family vacation savings plan in place.
And that’s okay.
But how does this impact your savings goal? How will you stay on track and focused when it seems like one financial crisis after another comes at you?
How do you decide what’s a necessary expense to tap into your savings account and what’s not?
How do you keep from saying “Forget this!” and scrapping your plans all together?
Here are the steps that have worked for me:
- Just save
- Small things add up.
First things first, breathe. Remember why you’re saving and why this goal is important to you. Write it down, draw a picture, make it your screensaver, whatever you need to do to keep yourself focused and committed to your savings plan.
When we’re stressed, angry, depressed, fill in the blank with any emotion you can think of – we have a tendency to think irrationally and make long-lasting decisions that impact our hard work.
I, personally, like having my savings fund in an account that I cannot easily access. I may have to wait 24 – 48 hours to access the funds. Before requesting that transfer you have time to really think about what you’re doing and if it’s truly a necessity.
I know it’s not fun, but if there’s a specific savings goal that you’re attempting to reach or debt you’re having to pay down, you may need to sacrifice some things – eating out, cable television, that new outfit, your morning coffee, whatever your “splurge” items are. Get rid of them and move what you would normally spend to your savings account. Again, keeping your long-term goal front and center helps with this. When we were saving for our first home, it was no fun to take my lunch everyday. I hated it! However, by speaking positive affirmations while packing my lunch, reminding myself this was a short-term sacrifice for a fantastic payoff and having great co-workers that would bring their lunch, too, and spend our lunch hour playing card and board games made a huge difference. Find ways to make the sacrifice less painful.
Here’s the thing saving money takes a concerted effort and self-discipline. The need to build up savings isn’t as pressing as paying your mortgage or utilities. No matter the amount – if it’s $0.01 or $1.00. Save. The key is to begin the habit of saving and make it a habit, part of your daily routine. I love using Digit for this step because I can easily text a dollar amount to be saved and the site monitors my spending habits to make small savings transactions. I shared in my article on how to save $1000 in 90 days the ah-ha moment I had at work one day: I was a dedicated employee and deserved to pay myself out of each paycheck. What was the purpose of putting in those hours of service if I had absolutely nothing to show for it? Setting up a direct deposit to my savings account for $25 each pay period ensured I had something to show for it and gave me a sense of accomplishment towards my savings plan. $25 no do-able? Start with $5 or $10. But save something on a regular and consistent basis.
The Small Things Add Up
Don’t focus so much on the large ways you’re saving and neglect the smaller ways that make a difference, too. Save all your change and deposit into your savings account every few months. Use coupons, savings apps and websites when possible – my favorites are Ibotta, Shopkick, and CheckOut51. Reuse and repurpose items when you can. Sell items on sites like eBay or Facebook groups. My friend Amiyrah of 4 hats and frugal is sharing a 52 Week Making Money Challenge this year where she shares a simple way to make money each week.
Life happens. It seems to happen even more so and have a more devastating effect when your finances are out of whack. Don’t let the stresses of life deter you from your savings goals. Breathe, sacrifice
all most some of your splurges and non-necessities, save something consistently and remember the small things truly do add up and impact your savings goal over time. You can do this!