As you think about savings goals, it’s really easy to think about that ideal end state. For example, I want an emergency fund with six months’ salary in it, so I calculate out what that will be and I set my savings goal.
Slowly and very slowly I progress toward that not so insignificant goal—sometimes it seems like it will never get here. Savings is a process. And it can be a slow one, especially with big goals and a student or recent student’s budget.
So how can you keep yourself motivated to keep saving? Here are a couple things you may want to consider:
First, set specific, realistic goals. Are you saving for a car down payment, emergency fund or something else? When you know what you’re saving for, it’s easier to visualize your goals. Then give yourself a reality check. Sure six months’ salary in an emergency fund may be an ideal amount to have at the ready, but maybe with the savings amount you’re able to include in your budget it would be better to start with three months. You can always increase your goals down the road.
Second, celebrate your savings! As you reach savings milestones along the way, reward yourself. Maybe you reach $500 saved and decide on a $5 treat—a savings cupcake or fancy coffee. Then you reach $1,000 and you get a $10 treat—a night at the movies or a couple of games at the bowling alley. Build up to bigger and bigger rewards. Just think, at $5,000 you could get a new pair of shoes! (Or maybe it’s just me who’s motivated by footwear….)
How do you all reward yourselves for saving? Does it motivate you to keep going?