Saving. It’s never going to be the most thrilling word in the world, is it? Perhaps you’d like to start or increase your savings – but you somehow never have quite enough left at the end of the month. Plus, however great it would be to have a lump sum in the bank, the process of getting there is distinctly unsexy.
We’ve all heard of (and probably struggled with) impulse spending; don’t you just wish that there was such a thing as impulse saving? Alas, I doubt that anyone ever has the sudden urge to transfer a wad of cash into their savings account!
So how can you make saving a bit more exciting? How can you work towards getting the same thrill from saving money as you do from spending it?
Have a Goal in Mind
Firstly, I’m definitely more eager to save when there’s something I really want to use the money for. Most recently, this was my postgraduate creative writing course: I knew what it was going to cost, I had about eight months to set the money aside, and I was determined enough to do it.
Your goal could be a fun one or a serious one. Perhaps:
- You’re saving up to take a course that could launch you into the career of your dreams
- You’re saving for a foreign vacation
- You’re saving for a special occasion, like a wedding
- You’re saving for a new car or house
- You’re saving so that you have an emergency fund and peace of mind (this goal could actually bring you a lot more day-to-day happiness than the others)
Talk to other people about your goal, or write it down: this helps to make it real and concrete in your mind. Try imagining how you’ll feel when you’ve accomplished that goal – probably happy, proud of yourself, and maybe even relieved.
Set a Total and Track Your Progress
As well as having a clear goal for your savings in mind, give yourself a target to aim for – an actual figure in dollars (or whatever your currency is). Sometimes, this will arise naturally from your goal: you’ll know how much the course or holiday you want is. Other times, you might have to think a bit, perhaps establishing an appropriate amount for your emergency fund.
If you don’t really have an idea how much you want to save, start with a target of $1,000: challenging, but not unrealistic.
Now, you can track your progress towards your total amount. Each time you put a deposit into your savings account, enjoy that great feeling of getting a bit closer to your goal.
You might even want to make a visual tracker for yourself, like one of those fund-raising thermometers that charities and churches use. You could use something as simple as a piece of card divided into squares, with each square representing, say, $50 or $100. Keep the bit of card in your daily planner, on the fridge or even in your wallet – somewhere you’ll see it daily. This can really help to keep you motivated when you’re tempted to spend.
Give Yourself Mini-Challenges – And Rewards
If you’ve got a big target, like saving for the cost of a course, or for the deposit on a new home, it might seem like it’s taking forever to reach your goal. To stay motivated and disciplined along the way, give yourself mini-challenges.
These could just be specific targets (perhaps at $200 or $500 intervals). Alternatively, you could be more creative in challenging yourself:
- Take a packed lunch to work every day for two weeks, and save the money you’d otherwise have spent on buying lunch out
- Keep a spending log for a month and see if there are any big items there which you can cut down on
- Find a way to earn an extra $200 this month (perhaps spending a few evenings childminding, or a couple of Saturdays doing odd jobs)
- Sell things you no longer use (like DVDs, books, gadgets) and put the money into your savings account
I’m sure you can think of lots more! Try to make it a bit fun – turn saving into a game. And when you successfully accomplish one of your challenges, give yourself a reward. (Make it something that costs nothing or next to nothing, though!)
Are you saving for anything? Do you have a target that you’re trying to reach? How do you stay motivated along the way?
|Written on 8/18/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line ([email protected]) or check out her website at Aliventures.||Photo Credit: voobie|