We’ve started our journey towards financial control so we can’t stop now – we need to keep moving forward (cue the best Disney movie of all time) and create some kind of savings goal. Below we’ve identified and outlined the 5 baby steps needed to gaining control – specifically around how to start saving the money you have and are earning while avoiding any debt.
1. Finalize your savings goal
We’ve discussed how to create SMART goals, so now it’s time to set them in stone. Start small. Maybe the first goal is to just understand your monthly expenditure at a high level. Roughly how much do you spend on rent and utilities? How much on food? Solidify one savings goal and set it in stone by either sharing your goal with a family member or close friend or simply just hanging it up or writing it down somewhere. This will help hold you accountable, but be kind to yourself in the process. If you don’t reach the goal this month, adjust for next month. If you do reach it, give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back, and maybe even a Netflix binge.
2. Assess your spending
A savings goal can’t be actualized without understanding what money you have to work with. Take a look at your spending patterns and highlight the recurrences. If you have online banking take a look at your last month of spending.
A good way to break up your spending is by recurring bills and fixed costs versus variable costs. Recurring and fixed bills are things you need to survive: utilities, credit card bills, rent, food, etc. Variable costs are spending that may fluctuate a bit more like: entertainment, recreation, restaurants, seasonal clothes, etc.
Looking at multiple weeks –especially two full pay periods– can help you spot patterns and estimation of the spending amount. Once you have an idea of your spending then you will be more aware where your money is going on a daily basis.
3. Come up with a number to spend…
That is less than what you earn. After assessing your spendings it’ll be clearer to you where your paycheck is going. This is the hard part. Sit with yourself and decide where you can minimalize and possibly save some of your money. This number you come up with should be your new spending target for the time period that works for you. The time period could be weekly, monthly, or based on your pay period. It’s up to you to decide the amount of time your money planning should cover that will work best for you. It really depends on your expense patterns, some people find it easier to plan based on their pay period while others like to take the time each week to re-plan and execute.
4. Implement the savings plan
Sometimes it’s hard to follow through with our savings goal because we kind of just make them up in our heads and move on. Write this one down and put it somewhere easily visible to you, like on your phone, in your wallet, or on your bedroom wall.
5. Check – in
Part of successfully implementing your plan is to make sure you have a check-in time set up. This could look differently for each person.The main goal is to just set up some way to track your progress. This could mean checking in with your money at the end of the week or at the end of two weeks, or even updating the friend or family member that knows about your savings goal.
Image Credit: Mirjana Jesic