Saving for something big can feel like you’re striving for an unattainable goal. But whether you’re hoping to go on a dream vacation, saving up for a new car, or wanting to buy a home, you can start saving for something big right now. Here are five steps to get started — and to make your goal attainable.
1. Make sure your goal is concrete
You may have a vague idea of what you want to achieve. But just wanting to “go on a family beach vacation” or “save up a down payment” aren’t specific. Instead of setting generic goals, decide exactly what it is you’re aiming for. If you want to go on a dream vacation, start looking at destinations now, research the costs, and come up with the specific dollar amount you need. When your goal becomes more tangible by having a specific dollar amount tied to it, you’ll have more motivation and a great ability to plan.
2. Create a time-sensitive plan
An open-ended plan means you can keep postponing saving the money for it, which means you don't have a great chance of meeting your goal. When you create a savings plan, on the other hand, you have a roadmap to meeting your goal.
Once you’ve calculated how much you need to save up, determine how much you can afford to save each month or each paycheck, and set up a plan to put that money aside. Opening a separate savings account can be a good way to stash away that cash. You may also want to put the funds into a share certificate, which will make it less easy to spend.
3. Be realistic
Saving for something big can take time, so don’t rush the process. Saving up to make a down payment on a house or cover your children’s college costs can take years. In the meantime, you need to be able to keep living. While being super frugal may seem like the best way to speed up the process and save even more, being too strict with yourself will increase the risk of you giving up on your goal. Instead, set up a realistic savings plan that you can actually stick to month after month.
4. Factor in emergencies
You can’t predict when disaster will strike, but it’s inevitable that you’ll need some extra cash at some point in the future. Being prepared for an emergency means having money set aside specifically for emergencies – this will help ensure you don’t need to dip into your other savings. By factoring in potential emergencies first, you can still maintain your savings strategy when a disaster occurs.
5. Become a regular saver
If you’re not a regular saver, it will be harder to meet your goal of paying for something big. Before you embark on an ambitious plan, be sure you’re willing to make the regular savings contributions. If you’re not used to saving regularly, check out these 27 tips to jump start your savings.