Did you get slightly carried away with making financial resolutions this year? Are you overwhelmed with how many things you want to do, and have no idea how to save for all of them?
Learning how to balance multiple savings goals can be a bit of a challenge if you’ve never done it before, but all it requires is some in-depth planning.
Make a List of Your Savings Goals
The first thing you need to do is take a step back from all the savings goals whirling around in your head and write them down. You can’t gain clarity unless you have everything together in front of you.
Give yourself five minutes and write down all the savings goals that come to mind. Here are some examples to get you started:
Down payment on a house
Don’t filter yourself – that part can come later. The goal is to get everything out of your head and onto paper so you can evaluate it. This is critical in getting clear on which goals you want to prioritize
Evaluating Your Savings Goals
After you’ve got everything down on the page, it’s time to figure out which savings goals are the most important to you – these are the ones to save for first.
Go through your list and put a star next to the ones you know, without a doubt, you want to accomplish.
Next, put a circle next to the goals you’d like to save for, but aren’t necessarily in a rush about.
Take a look at what’s left. Are there any that seem a little trivial now that you think about it? Cross off any that are unrealistic, don’t actually fit with your other financial goals or you just don’t feel excited about.
Organizing Your Savings Goals: How Much to Save and When to Save It
Re-order your goals from the ones you’re most excited about to least excited about. Regardless of hype levels, these are the goals you’re choosing to focus on for the immediate future.
Of course, each goal is going to take a different amount of time and effort to save for. Create a few columns in your list so you can keep track of this information:
Priority # | Savings Goal | Total Amount to Save | Amount to Save per Month | Deadline | Doable?/Notes
Starting at the top of the list, write down the total amount you’ll need to save for each goal, and your internal deadline for hitting that goal.
For example, let’s say you want to save for a down payment on a house, and you want to become a homeowner in about two years. You ran the numbers and figure you’ll need to save $20,000 for this goal, which means stashing away $833 per month to reach this goal.
Let’s say you also need to save for a new computer. That’s only $500, and you want it within the next four months. That means you’ll need to save $125 per month to reach that goal.
At this point, you’ll start to see that some of your goals are short-term, while others are long-term. It’s okay to work toward these simultaneously, but you should realize that saving $125 for your computer might extend your down payment deadline.
That’s where the “Doable?/Notes” section comes in. Is it at all possible to extend any of your deadlines? Or is it possible to earn more money on the side and earmark it specifically for “down payment money”? Get strategic!
How to Manage Your Multiple Savings Goals
Once you have your spreadsheet filled out, it’s time to put your plan into action.
You should have the amounts you need to save per month already, you just need a bank that supports multiple savings accounts. Having this set up makes it extremely easy to “set it and forget it” for the most part.
Create savings accounts for each of your goals, and then set up automatic transfers from your checking to each savings account according to the amount you need to save per month for each.
Going back to our previous example, you would set up automatic transfers of $833 from your checking account to your down payment savings account, and $125 to your computer savings fund. It’s that easy!
What If My Goals Change?
That’s fine. Life isn’t linear – your goals will likely shift over time. That’s why having the spreadsheet is handy. You can change the priority of your goals and check in each month to make sure plans haven’t changed.
Having money saved up is always a good thing. If one goal falls through the cracks, you can transfer the money over to another goal! The important thing is to get started and take control so you can hit your savings goals sooner.