How to Make Saving as Exciting as Spending
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|