It’s easy to decide we want to save more money. But before we set off on a journey of endless savings we must take a little time to plan first. Think of it like training for a marathon. You wouldn’t just open up your front door and take off running and expect to easily conquer those 26.2 miles. There’s planning involved. You need little goals along the way that will help you achieve that one big goal you desire. Start off walking a mile. Then jogging. And then taking short runs until you build up your strength.
The same principles apply for saving money. While we are all different in what works for us, in the past I have made my biggest financial gains when I have a long-term goal in mind with short-term goals to support it along the way. You need something to push you to say, “I don’t need this or it will take away from that” or “I choose not to buy that because I’d rather have this instead.”
So your first task is to take time today to stop and think about your future. What do you want for yourself in a year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. Perhaps you want to save up for a college, to buy a new house, to be financially secure so you can start a family or to just work towards a debt-free life. More than likely several of you will have this goal in mind: to quit living paycheck to paycheck. I get it. I’ve been there. Life is tough when you aren’t sure how you can make it to the next Friday’s paycheck.
Before you go further, you must think about what you want for your goals. After you have spent some time thinking, set aside an hour or so to talk with your spouse (if you have one) about his/her goals. Work together at compromising, when needed, as the goal-process is much easier when you are on the same page. From there, call together a family meeting and share your goal with your children and ask for their input and their ideas on how you can make that goal happen.
I’ll share my experience with you.
My husband and I decided that we’d like to move to a new house, one where there is a bit more room and a better school system. That is our long-term goal. But to make that happen, we need to have short-term goals of fixing up our current house and saving for all those moving/selling expenses. We looked at various areas to price houses so we could have a better idea of how much we needed to save up. We discussed our plans with our children and keep them involved in every aspect along the way. We are on one page as a family. When we are out shopping and the kids want something, they knew they must choose between using their savings or doing without that item. They understand that we need to give up luxuries for a year or two because we shared our goal with them. We sat down and mapped out what needs to happen to get from point A to point B.
These are the things that I encourage you all to do. Map out your financial marathon. Write out your baby steps you’ll take to achieve it. And give yourself little rewards along the way. I want you all to cross that finish line for your long-term goal!
1) Call together a family meeting to discuss your future.
2) Set a long-term goal and some short-term goals to help you achieve it.
3) Reward yourself along the way.
How do goals help us save money?
1) You’ll find yourself spending less money on impulse buys if you know it will take away from your goal.
2) Knowing you have a goal in mind, you might work harder at possibly finding more ways to earn money.
3) You’ll take a better look at where your money truly is being spent and find ways to make cut-backs so you can achieve your goal.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series!