Whether you want to save money for a trip to Japan, a down payment on your first home, or the wedding of your dreams, you are probably going to need a well-funded savings account. And for many people, that means implementing and sticking to a savings strategy.
A great first step to saving money is defining your savings goals. What is it that you’re working for? Whatever the answer is, having a specific goal — and not losing sight of it — can help you reach it. While getting to the finish line may require some planning and discipline, the reward will likely be well worth the effort.
Because living your best life probably requires having money saved, here are some strategies you might find helpful when trying to set and reach your savings goals.
1. Identifying Your Goals
There are some savings goals that are nearly universal, like retirement and an emergency fund, and others that will be unique to you. Everyone’s finances and goals are different. Before you can reach your savings goals, it’s important to know what they are. This is the fun part — you may want to spend some time dreaming and planning here.
Next, you’ll want to list those goals in order of priority. Keep in mind, priority doesn’t necessarily mean which happens soonest (although it could). For example, even though retirement is far away, it will likely be the most expensive savings goal a person will have during their lifetime. Therefore, it may rank higher in priority than other savings “wants,” such as a new television or an exotic vacation.
Because many people won’t be able to save for each of their big goals right away, ranking them in order of importance can help you determine which to work on first.
2. Determining Monthly Amounts
This is a necessary — and often eye-opening — exercise. First, list out your top two or three financial goals. Next, think about how much money you need to accomplish each goal and the time frame, in months, for accomplishing the goal. Then, divide the former by the latter.
For example, let’s say you want to save $6,000 for an emergency fund in one year (12 months), $10,000 for a wedding in four years (48 months), and $20,000 for a down payment in six years (72 months).
By dividing the savings goal by the number of months, you’ll find you need to save $500 per month for your emergency fund, $208 per month for your wedding fund, and $278 per month for your down payment.
This may be another exercise in prioritization, helping you hone in on what to focus on first.
Recommended: 10 Ways To Save Money Fast
3. Writing Down Your Goals
Research suggests that people who write their goals down are more likely to reach them than those who don’t. There could be a few reasons for this.
One is that a written list can serve as a practical reminder that you have goals to work toward. You can give yourself an extra visual cue by posting your goal (or goals) in a place where you’ll see it often, like on the fridge.
Writing down a goal may also help connect the creative, thinking part of the brain with the action-oriented and pragmatic parts of the brain. To translate your savings dreams into reality, it may be important to get as many parts of your brain and consciousness involved as possible.
You may find it valuable (and fun) to take this idea a step further and create a vision board for your goals.
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4. Tracking Your Progress
There’s an old saying that goes “what gets measured gets improved.”
If you truly want to get better at spending and saving, then you may want to track both your daily spending habits and your long-term progress on your savings goals. This may feel difficult at first, but will likely get easier with practice and as you hone the methods that work for you.
With daily or weekly spending habits, there are lots of ways to track how you’re doing. If you don’t know where to start, there’s always the old-fashioned way — with a pen and paper. This is a great way to really wrap your head around where your money is going, and the act of writing down each “spend” may actually help you to spend less. Or, you could collect receipts and enter your expenses in an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet. Or, even easier, you may want to get a budgeting app (like SoFi’s) for your phone or other mobile device. These tools connect to your bank and credit card accounts and automatically track and categorize your spending.
With savings goals, it’s also possible to track your progress via pen and paper or using a spreadsheet — simply write down your goal and jot down your progress every time you make a transfer to your savings account. Budgeting apps are also a great way to track your savings, since they automatically import your transactions when you link your bank account(s).
5. Celebrating Small Successes
To help avoid savings fatigue and to keep the fire burning, don’t forget to treat yourself along the way. Positive reinforcement might be an important element to your success.
How might you do this? You don’t have to wait until you’ve reached your big goal to celebrate — you can give yourself some love throughout the journey. For example, if the goal is to save $10,000, then you might celebrate when you hit $5,000 in addition to when you cross the finish line.
Celebrating can be as simple as treating yourself to a hot chocolate or the fanciest coffee in town, but it can help to find a way to give yourself that mental victory.
If you’re like many people, you’re busy and not wild about taking on another chore. So, what can we do to make saving money less of a chore? One potential way to do this is to automate.
Automating is a simple and powerful way to make progress toward savings goals without having to think about it all the time.
To automate your savings, you might set up a recurring transfer from your checking account to your savings account on the same day each month, ideally right after you get paid. Financial experts refer to this strategy as “paying yourself first.” If you wait until you’ve paid all your bills and done your spending for the month to make a manual transfer, you might (a) forget and (b) not have anything left to move to savings.
7. Choose a High-Yield Savings Account
As you work toward your financial goals, you’ll want to make sure to put your accumulating funds in a high-yield savings account to maximize your money. A high-yield savings account is a type of federally insured savings product that earns rates that are much better than the national average. This allows your money to grow faster and can help you reach your savings goals sooner.
Some banks offer special, high-interest savings accounts that earn better rates than traditional accounts. One of the best places to look for high-interest savings accounts is online banks. Online banks, which save significant costs by not having to maintain branches, rarely charge monthly fees. They also typically offer rates that are much higher than those paid by traditional banks.
Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.
SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.
SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.
SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.
Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.
Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet..
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