“Let’s save money just for fun,” said hardly anyone, ever. For many of us, saving is something that happens when times are tough or if we really, really want something. And even if you really, really want something, it’s often all too easy to get bored of belt tightening, so here are some tips for saving money to help you reach your financial goals.
If you’re saving, you should aim to be SMART, as in it’s ideal to have a goal that’s:
- Specific – be clear about what you want.
- Measurable – make sure you can measure your progress; in this case, it’s the money you save.
- Achievable – goals need to be achievable, reaching for the stars is fine if you have a spaceship.
- Realistic – be certain that your goal is relevant to the here and now.
- Timely – give yourself a time frame. Setting a realistic end date puts your goal in sight and keeps you focused.
Not having a SMART goal can mean you end up distracted, demoralised and demotivated. So, here are some SMART tips to help you save money and keep you focused.
1. Have a clear goal
Basic but essential. If you can, aim for something specific and tangible, like a car, a holiday or some new shoes. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with aiming for something a little more abstract like ‘being financially independent’. But remember – abstract goals, by their nature, are harder to measure and can involve constantly changing goal posts based on factors you can’t control, like the cost of living.
2. Visualise your goal
You can help yourself stay motivated by adding strategically placed pictures of your goal around the house. Whether you want the latest iPhone, a designer dress or a holiday to Hawaii, visualising it could spur you on. For instance, if internet shopping is your Achilles heel, putting a picture of what you’re saving for next to your PC, laptop or tablet could make you think twice before splurging on items you don’t really need.
3. Set milestones
Depending on what you’re saving for, you could be in it for the long haul. So, it’s a good idea to set yourself key milestones to keep your goal timely so it doesn’t feel like you’re saving to fill a black hole. It doesn’t matter what those milestones are as long as they’re achievable; and remember – every pound saved is one closer to your heart’s desire.
4. Treat yourself
Saving without any light at the end of the tunnel is just boring. A tip for saving money is to occasionally spend it and treat yourself when you reach a milestone. It doesn’t have to be fancy – maybe a takeaway pizza or fish and chips. Whatever makes you feel good will keep you going.
5. Visualise your progress
Creating a totaliser to help you visualise your goal could be a good motivator. It can be in any format you want – a spreadsheet, a pie chart or a graphs. If you’re saving for a family objective, getting the kids to make their own totaliser and colour it in every time you reach a new milestone can be a fantastic way to inspire and enthuse the whole household.
6. Re-evaluate your goals
Having a realistic aim means reaching for something you want or need. Just because you started out saving for one thing doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind. If saving for a rental deposit ends up higher on your priority list than your original plan to save for a car, then why not do that instead?
7. Set yourself mini challenges
Life in lockdown is the perfect opportunity to set yourself challenges. Why not try something like not buying clothes for a month (it’s not like you have anywhere fancy to go). Alternatively, if working from home has saved you a fortune in takeaway coffee, how about seeing if you can keep that going when you start back at the office?
8. Be inspired by others
Reading financial blogs and seeing how other people have achieved their goals can be a great source of inspiration and keep you motivated. After all, if they can do it – why can’t you?
Whatever you’re saving for, stick with it and stay motivated – you can save money!
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