It’s nice to have a little financial cushion in your bank account. But, finding the motivation to save money can be challenging. Here are eight tips for finding your own money motivation and stacking those extra dollars in your savings account.
8 Ways to Stay Motivated to Save Money
Finding the ‘Why’
Saving just to save may not be enough for some to stay motivated. Instead, it could be helpful for people to figure out their own personal “why.” Why are they saving, what are they saving for, and how long do they need to save to get it?
It can be easy to start saving and lose motivation when life gets in the way (the bills stack up, emergencies happen, the car won’t start, and on and on and on). However, if a person has a reason for saving in the back of their mind it may be easier to stay the course.
By the way, a person’s savings motivation can be for literally anything their heart desires. Sure, it can be to save for retirement, to buy a house, or to start a family, but it can also be to go on vacation, renovate the kitchen, or to just have enough in the bank so they can have peace of mind. Make it whatever you want.
When finding money motivation, it can be useful to try to think about financial priorities. A person needs to pay for food, shelter, and clothing, but do they need to have a new phone? Or a new car? A new designer watch or the latest gadget? Before setting a budget to and starting a new savings journey, a person should think about their own personal priorities.
Again, it’s a totally individual choice, so each person will have to sit down and think about what matters most to them. Perhaps having an entertainment budget for attending events matters to their happiness, or eating out at restaurants once a week makes them feel more connected to their community. It’s up to everyone to figure out their own priorities and build a budget around that.
Building a Budget
To help clarify savings goals, try building a personal budget around the priorities mentioned above. A personal budget makes a great road map for the future and can help keep people motivated to save because they know exactly where their money is going, and how it can help them get the things they want.
To create a budget, first, start tracking all personal spending. To do so, gather all account information and sift through a few month’s worth of expenses.
Next up—determining how to categorize expenses. Getting too granular can make it challenging to track. Consider keeping it generic with categories like “groceries,” “shopping,” “entertainment,” “health,” “home,” “bills,” “medical,” “car payment,” etc. Try to make sure every dollar spent has a home somewhere.
Then, plot out the next few months of anticipated expenses and see how much cash is left over. This can go into a savings account. If a person wants to save more they can take a critical eye at their spending and see where things can be cut. For example, not using that gym membership? Cut it. No longer reading that magazine subscription? Bye-bye. Every little bit can help.
Saving Little by Little
Once a person’s priorities are in focus and their budget is set it’s time to actually start saving. Yes, it can be thrilling to drop a whole heap of cash into a savings account, but the thrill can wear off after a while. Instead, try saving little by little. This way, a person won’t feel the pinch and it won’t feel like they are missing out month over month on the fun stuff just to save for a hypothetical future.
One strategy is to set up automatic transfers, so that money is saved without much effort. This can help a savings account add up without feeling like an effort, which could have major effects on a person’s motivations.
Try Walking Away From Impulse Spending
There are a lot of spending triggers in this world. Sales, pretty items, shiny objects, nights out, the list goes on and on. Sometimes, the best thing people can do is walk away before purchasing or saying “yes.” Take a night out with friends as one example. Before immediately responding, people could say “can I get back to you?” put down the phone and think about if they really want to attend or if it’s just habit. Set an alarm for 30 minutes and decide when the timer is up. Allowing yourself a minute to step back, can help people be intentional with their spending.
For bigger purchases, people can try the 30-day rule. It’s a financial strategy that helps people regain control over impulse buys. Basically, if a person sees something they want to buy but don’t necessarily need, they just stop and walk away. Not just for a minute, but for a full 30 days.
Next, the person writes down the item they want to buy and where they can find it, along with the price. Put it away and set a calendar reminder 30 days from that date.
At the end of that timeframe, if a person really still wants the item they can return and purchase it. However, in that month a person may no longer feel the urge to buy or may have forgotten the item altogether. As a bonus, if a person gets to the end of the 30-day block and decides they no longer need the item they could price match the cost and put that amount into a savings account to use the money toward their priority list instead.
Setting Short-Term Savings Goals
Saving for long-term goals, like retirement, is important, but don’t overlook the small stuff. Setting a savings goal can help people know there is an end in sight. One place to start is establishing an emergency fund. Having an emergency fund can provide stability should you run into, well, an emergency.
Other shorter-term goals might include things like new furniture, a vacation, or a renovation. Having these smaller goals can make saving for something as grandiose as retirement seem less intimidating.
Whatever it is, find a number and stick to it. Then, once a person hits that goal, they can set another and start the entire process over again.
Remembering to Reevaluate Every Now and Then
After setting a priority, budget, and goal, it’s important to also set reminders to reevaluate those markers from time to time too. One way to do this could be making it a New Year’s resolution to look at money goals and see if they are still in line with your personal goals.
Life changes and finances may need to change with it. It’s OK to reallocate the money already saved and put it in a new bucket.
Perhaps someone began saving for a vacation, but had a baby along the way and wants to start saving for their college education instead. Or maybe someone switched jobs within the last year and is making more money now. They can readjust their budgets and savings plans to fit their new financial outlook. The same goes for those who may have lost work too. Reevaluating, reprioritizing, and reallocating can help make financial change more manageable.
Telling Others About Savings Goals
Sometimes, the best thing one can do to stay motivated is to let others know about their plans. A person can let their inner circle in on their savings goals and priorities and ask that those trusted few help them stay on track.
By letting people in on plans, the person can also help avoid any tricky situations, like having to say “no” to events, parties, or nights out because people already know they are trying to save. The inner-circle could also help keep the person on the straight and narrow when it comes to wants vs. needs and help to keep financial goals in sight.
Organizing Your Savings
Being able to see your savings grow is perhaps the best money motivator out there. There are a number of financial apps that can help people see their finances all in one place. Some even offer visual representations, such as bar charts and graphs, so people can see just how much their savings have grown over time.
For those looking to visualize their savings, organize budgets, and set savings goals all in one place, SoFi Money® could be one option to get started.
Users with SoFi Money can create multiple financial vaults all under a single cash management account. This allows users to save, store, or get cash out of one single convenient account.
SoFi Money users can create their own customized vaults and give each one a goal-specific name like “New Kitchen” or “Rainy Day Fund.” Then, users can track their progress right in the SoFi Money app whenever they wish.
Users can also set up direct deposits into individual vaults to make saving a cinch. Perhaps best of all, the account also comes with no account fees and unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, which could make saving even easier.
It can be easy to lose motivation when saving money. Here’s a brief recap of tips included in this article that could be helpful for keeping savings goals on track.
1. Figure out your “why.” Once you know why you want to save you’ll find your money motivation.
2. Build a budget. Once you know how much you’re spending you can figure out how much you can save.
3. Save little by little. Starting small can add up to big savings in the future. Try saving a little each week via direct deposit to not feel the pinch.
4. Try the 30-day rule. Really having trouble saving? Try walking away from needless purchases for a full 30 days. If you still want it after that time it’s OK to buy.
5. Set a short-term savings goal. Having a goal helps to motivate people. Set your financial savings goal and work toward it. Once you hit it, make a new goal.
6. Reevaluate regularly. Life changes, so should your finances. Reevaluate your money motivations, goals, and finances on a regular basis.
7. Share your goals. Tell a few trusted people what you’re working toward so they can support you along the way.
8. Visualize the journey. Keep your money in plain sight with apps like SoFi Money, which allows users to categorize their savings in vaults and see their finances all in one place.
This article originally appeared on SoFi and has been republished with permission.
Tawnya is an elementary special education teacher by day and co-blogger at Money Saved is Money Earned by night.
She holds an Honors BS in Psychology from Oregon State University and an MS in Special Education from Portland State University. She has had a pretty successful writing career, first as a writing tutor at the Oregon State University Writing Center, and in recent years, as a freelance writer.
Tawnya and co-blogger Sebastian have a wealth of knowledge and information about personal finance, retirement, student loans, credit cards, and many other financial topics. They teach people how to save money, make money, and understand money.