6 tips to set and meet your savings goals
Got a target? Good
We know this is a great motivator, although having something tangible to work towards also takes planning and commitment, especially during the rough times.
With this in mind, we’ve come up with a six-step guide to help you reach your goals.
1. Be organised
Make a list of your goals, know what you want and what you need to do to get there.
Your list will probably be different depending on your age; you have different goals at 20 compared with 50. For example, if you’re in your mid-20s, you may be more concerned about buying a car or home than saving for retirement.
Act to include how your plans can change — within 10 years you could have a mortgage, marriage and kids. You’ll also be surprised at how time flie, it won't be long before you need to consider your retirement.
Arrange your goals into different time categories:
- Short-term goals (1 to 5 years) – e.g. car, home deposit, wedding
- Medium-term goals (5 to 20 years) – e.g. pay off mortgage, child’s school fees
- Long-term goals (20-plus years) – e.g. retirement, child’s wedding
Even if it seems too far away to comprehend there is one thing you can be sure of – you’ll need money to pay for it.
2. Prioritise your goals
Prioritise your goals and focus on the most vital, it may seem easier to aim for the lower goals but are they the goals that are most important? It may seem a little bit harder but will pay off in the long run.
Take your list and arrange it in order of priority. Ask yourself if each goal is essential or a luxury — the latter should always be lower down than essentials. Ask yourself what your most important goal is, how much you’ll need to achieve it, and how long you have to reach it.
3. Are your goals achieveable?
Make sure your goals are achieveable and realistic. If your goals aren’t achieveable you will struggle to save or invest properly — you’ll only become disheartened.
It is important to do your sums. This way you can work out a realistic monthly amount to put towards your goal. You just need to make sure you stick to it.
4. Prepare for emergencies
Your savings and investments are for one purpose: to reach your goals and provide a cash sum when you need it most. There’s no point in having a savings account if you are dipping in and out of it when you need a small bit of unbudgeted for cash. It might be best to add another goal to your list — emergencies. This could be a small amount set aside every month in a separate account for things like car repairs.
5. Find the best deal
Whether its an easy-access savings account for a short-term goal, or a more long-term investment, it pays to shop around for different products and find what is best suited for you.
Once you have your account up and running, keep tabs on your investment by keeping track of your monthly statements (instead of just chucking them aside on the kitchen table). Most places also give you the means to view your accounts online which means your finances are nothing more than a mouse click away.
6. Be flexible
If you miss your goals don’t worry — just do a quick calculation and work out how much you missed your monthly target by and adapt. Unplanned distractions can come up all the time, you can always extend your savings or investment term or find ways of economising for a while until you’ve replaced the lost cash and are back on track for those goals.