5 ways to make saving for big ticket items easier
Saving up for big ticket items — like a down payment on a house or a trip somewhere amazing — can feel like a big job that requires a lot of effort and perseverance. Much as we might wish it, saving up a hefty sum doesn’t happen overnight. But there are things you can do to make the process easier.
1. Define your target amount
The first step is to clearly define your target savings amount. A statement like “We’re going to have to save up a lot of money” is too vague to be actionable. How will you know when you have enough? Get specific instead. Figure out what amount you’ll most likely need, and set that as your goal. When you have a concrete number in mind you can measure your progress as you begin chipping away at it. Measuring (and celebrating!) your progress helps you to stick with it.
2. Automate your savings
Next, figure out the minimum amount you’re able to save each pay period. Then automate that savings by having it sent directly to an account that’s earmarked specifically for your big-ticket item. It’s easier to save when you don’t have to think about it. You’re also not waiting until the end of the month to see what’s left over and available to save — you’ll have already done it. Set it and forget it works really well.
3. Create little challenges
Automating your savings with a minimum amount is great, but you don’t have to stop there. You can create little challenges to see how much extra you can send to your account each week or pay period. For example, you might challenge yourself to send in an extra $20 or $100 this week. You could do this by sending that money to savings instead of spending it on something that doesn’t seem as important to you, or by working to bring in a little bit of additional income that you then send to savings. As time goes on and you see your account balance growing, you’ll be inspired to add to it even more. That’ll get you to your target faster and easier.
4. Keep your goal front and center
Dream about your goal on a regular basis. Not the amount you’re working to save up, but what that money will enable you to do. Talk about your goal regularly with others who share in your dream or will support you. Post a picture of your goal, look at it daily, and celebrate the progress you’ve made so far. This can inspire you to further action.
5. Take advantage of outside resources
Remember there are resources out there (like Boostup!) that could help you reach your savings goal faster. Take advantage of the resources that apply to you. For example, if you’re saving for a downpayment on a house you may qualify for programs that would reduce the amount you need to save. If you’re planning a trip somewhere, going during the off-season or the shoulder season could make the trip both less expensive and less crowded. Think creatively and stick with it, and you’ll reach your savings goal.
Jackie Beck writes about personal finance and loves the challenge of reaching big goals. You can follow her on Twitter at @moneycrush.