If there’s one thing the past few years have taught us, it’s that change is the only constant—and that applies to the economy, politics or our health. Sometimes it might feel like it’s too hard to plan or save for the future because everything could be different soon. But actually, you should always be thinking about what you’ll do next and how you'll get there. A savings plan is your guide to financing your future goals.
Reset Your Savings Plans
First things first: You need a rainy-day emergency fund so that you have a cushion when unexpected expenses arise, like a blown engine or a prolonged illness. That should be your top savings priority, until you've reached that goal.
But once you've got that fund fully stocked, think about what you see yourself doing in the next 6 months, year or 2 years.
Perhaps you’re looking forward to purchasing your first home or a new car. Or, maybe you want to splurge on a well-deserved vacation. If that goal costs more money than you have on hand, you need a financial plan to get there.
Here’s how to create a plan and achieve your goals:
- Determine a goal. To achieve a goal, you need a clear idea of how it's shaped. Be as specific as possible with details that bring your plan to life. Write down the dates and elements so it stays sharp in your mind. To boost your motivation, keep a photo that reminds you of your goal. You could even make it the lock screen photo on your phone so you see it throughout the day.
- Estimate the costs. After researching your goal, estimate the amount of money you’ll need to make it happen. Let’s say you plan to buy a car. You’ll need to consider the costs of buying a new or used car, what your interest rate and monthly payment could look like and how much you’ll need to set aside for monthly bills like insurance and gas, not to mention occasional repairs and periodic maintenance. Use a savings goal calculator to determine how long it may take you to reach your goal, and how you may need to change your spending habits to get there.
- Start saving. Open a certificate or money market account so you can earmark money for your goal. Add a personal touch by naming your bank account to match your goal. Every time you view your savings account, you’ll be reminded of where you want to be, whether it’s saving for all-new furniture, a family vacation, a down payment on a house or anything else. If you’re looking to earn a little more on your money, an account like Navy Federal Credit Union's EasyStartSM Certificate can help you reach your goal a little faster. Plus, with a variety of term lengths and a low minimum deposit, it’s a flexible option to fit your financial plan.
- Stash extra cash. Put extra money to work for your savings goal. Your financial situation may not include a lot of extra cash lying around, but even small amounts add up—whether it’s a bit from trimming your order at the coffee shop or money saved from dropping subscriptions you don’t need. If you had to cancel trips, concert outings and more because of the pandemic, consider using any “windfall” money you were refunded to save for your next adventure. Budgeting tools such as a monthly spending calculator can show you where you can find a bit of extra cash toward your goal.
- Set up automatic transfers. Keep your savings growing by making it automatic. Setting up recurring transfers into your savings account is a smart, convenient way to make sure you save money just like you pay any of your monthly bills—automatically. Learn more about small ways to continue building your savings with Navy Federal.
- If you don’t already have an emergency fund, use our emergency savings calculator in Next Steps to figure out how much you should be putting aside. Then, set up your savings account.
- To make room for savings, use a budgeting calculatorin Next Steps to see where your money is going and how you might be able to spend less. Then set up automatic transfers in next steps for what you feel comfortable setting aside each month.
- If you don't have a specific savings goal in mind—from home improvement to an exciting vacation—consider opening a retirement account and setting yourself up for success in the future.
This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.