5 Tips to Help You Set (And Reach) Your Savings Goals!
It’s January! Have you set new goals for 2021? Maybe you want to exercise more. Get organized? Learn a new skill? No matter how long your list of resolutions gets, you’ll want to leave space for one more important goal for you and your family – a savings goal.
Savings goals differ from person to person. These 5 proven tips will make it simple to set your particular savings goals and help ensure that they are challenging – yet attainable:
Tip #1 - Think About What Motivates You
While it’s important to get specific when making savings goals, you won’t need to start with the numbers. In fact, it’s best to pull back a bit and focus on the big picture first.
Begin by considering areas that motivate you such as the ones below:
- Retirement – perhaps retiring early!
- Your child’s college education – you can help them enter adulthood debt-free!
- Time off from work – maybe to travel and see the world!
The areas of motivation you uncover will power your savings goals. Finding motivation means you’re not chasing a number in a bank account – you’re pursuing a dream.
Tip #2 - The SMART Acronym
When setting savings goals, it’s helpful to follow the SMART acronym. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
It’s particularly important to make your goals specific and measurable. Rather than saying you want to save some money for your child’s college education, you should affix a dollar amount to the savings goal. And instead of leaving the goal timeline open-ended, there should be an end date for accomplishing it. You can easily modify your savings goals if at any time you need or want to change them.
Tip #3 - Break Up Big Goals into Smaller Parts
If you have a toddler scooting around your house, it can feel intimidating to think about saving for a college education that’s years down the road. You may be wondering to yourself: Where do I even begin?
Whether you’re saving for college down the road or setting aside cash to buy a new car in several months, it helps to break larger savings goals up into small, digestible parts.
For a long-term goal such as funding a college education, you can set smaller savings goals of three-, five-, 10-, and 15-years to keep you tracking toward the finish line. Not only does this make the goal feel more attainable, but it also gives you more chances to celebrate your progress along the way!
Tip #4 - Automate Whenever Possible
It’s human nature to be excited about a goal at the beginning only to see the enthusiasm gradually wane as time passes. One way to prevent this from happening with your savings goals is to automate the process as much as possible.
If you save with South Carolina’s Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan, for example, you can set up recurring payments that automatically draft contributions from your bank account. Combine that with an age-based investment strategy, and your portfolio automatically adjusts as the child gets older. This hands-off approach will make it easier to stick to your savings plan and reach your goal.
Tip #5 - Reward Yourself
You should reward yourself for being a smart saver! Every few months, take the time to review your progress, and if you’re on track, treat yourself to something special. It could be a date night celebration with your significant other, a new pair of shoes, or anything that motivates you to continue on. For larger accomplishments - like meeting a 10-year savings goal - you could plan something big like a weekend getaway.
Enroll in Future Scholar and Pursue Your Savings Goals!
The Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan offers South Carolinians three different ways to invest through the Direct plan option:
- Age-Based - Follow an investment strategy that’s based on the number of years remaining before your child is expected to enroll in college.
- Target-Allocation - Choose from seven different target-allocation portfolios that range from aggressive to conservative investments.
- Single-fund - Customize your portfolio by selecting different offerings, each of which invests in a single underlying fund.
Open a Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan today and take a positive first step toward accomplishing your new savings goal of funding your child’s college education!