Many of us would like to have money in savings. Whether it’s for an emergency fund, a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, quitting a job, or simply creating a bit of a buffer between paychecks, having some money set aside can make a huge difference in our ability to reach for our dreams.
But when you’ve got a long way to go before you meet your financial goal, and when – frankly – a dollar spent now seems to provide a lot more pleasure than a dollar saved, how can you make sure you’re motivated enough to put money aside on a regular basis?
Here are five things that could work for you…
1. Save Little And Often
Do you tell yourself that it’s not worth saving if you don’t have at least $100 (or $500, or $1000) to put into a savings account? This is a bit like telling yourself that it’s not worth getting some exercise unless you have a whole day clear to jog.
How about saving just a dollar or two each day? Most of us can cut a couple of dollars of unnecessary spending every day (how about skipping that latte, carpooling, ditching your daily newspaper..?) It’s a tiny amount that you’ll barely notice on a daily basis, but over the course of a year, you’ll have saved several hundred dollars.
2. Read Personal Finance Blogs
I find that I get encouraged to save – and to adopt good financial habits in general – by reading about others’ tips and success. One of my must-read blogs for this is The Simple Dollar; Trent writes very well, and covers topics in-depth without making them too complicated. He also has an upbeat and motivating attitude towards savings and finances (some personal finance blogs can make for rather dour reading).
3. Keep a Savings Log
Something that’s often recommended for those sorting out their finances is to keep a spending log – to write down what you spend, so that you have a clear picture of where all the money is going. I’ve done this in the past, and it’s always revealing (and occasionally a bit horrifying!)
A twist on this, though, is to keep a savings log. Each time you make a deposit into your savings account (or each time you shove a few dollars into the jam jar hidden under your bed), write down the date and how much you saved. This can be a great way to motivate yourself to save more. You could also use your calendar or diary for this.
4. Save Towards A Specific Goal
Having a very clear goal in mind can make it much easier to save up. If you know that you need $1,000 for that new computer, or if you’re determined to reach $5,000 in your emergency fund, focusing on the end goal can keep you motivated.
Your end reward might not be a tangible thing like a vacation or a new purchase: it might be peace of mind, or a sense of security or freedom. Consider visualizing how you’ll feel once you have your target amount in the bank. Will it take a weight off your shoulders? Will you be proud of what you’ve achieved?
5. Automate Your Savings
Finally, if you do find that your motivation waxes and wanes, simply automate your savings. Get your bank to transfer $100 (or $200 or $500 etc) from your checking account into a savings account, at the start of each month. If the money goes out without you having to lift a finger, chances are that you’ll simply let it head off into the savings pot …
There are plenty more ways to motivate yourself to save – so let’s hear some of your best tips in the comments!