Got lots of plans bubbling in your brain? Visualizing your goals can be the first step to achieving them. Whether your ambitions are big or small, long-term or short-term, numbered by the handful or in heaps, follow these steps to craft a savings strategy that can help you achieve them all.
Grab a pen and paper, and let your imagination roam. Think about goals you have now, where you think you’ll be in five years and where you want to be in 20 years. Debbie wants to save for retirement in 20 years, have a tidy sum for her daughter’s college education in four years and buy a top-of-the-line juicer as soon as possible. For Hector, beefing up his emergency fund and rebuilding his garage are top priorities.
Crunch the Numbers
First, determine how much money you need to meet each of your goals. Debbie used Navy Federal Credit Union’s online College Saving Calculator and Retirement Planner to establish a realistic objective for each of her long-term goals. Hector wants to build up a comfy cushion of six months’ worth of living expenses to tuck away in his emergency fund, and has been gathering estimates for his garage plans.
Next, look at your income and monthly expenses to see how much you can save every month and where you can cut your spending to save even more.
Which goals you save for first will depend on the timeframe for each, how much you can afford to allocate to each and your sense of urgency. Debbie determined that she could save $1,000 a month.
Since her juicer cost $300, she decided to treat herself right away, crossing one goal off her list while still putting $700 toward the others. Hector decided to put most of his savings into the emergency fund first, knowing it would give him greater peace of mind when he decided to undertake his costly garage remodel.
Find the Right Tool for The Job
Many savings and investment options can help you maximize your dollars. Deciding which is right for each of your goals will depend on your timeline and how accessible you want the funds to be. For Debbie’s longer-term plans, an IRA and a 529 college savings plan offer tax advantages. Hector opened a Navy Federal SaveFirst Account for his garage fund. He chose a Money Market Savings Account for stashing his growing emergency fund, since it’s accessible when necessary, but not so easily reached that he might dip into it on a whim.
Make It Your Own
The best way to save money is any way that works for you. Tailor your savings plan to your specific goals, maintain realistic expectations and keep your eyes on the prize to ensure that you maintain your enthusiasm and self-discipline. Visual reminders—a savings chart on your fridge or images of your goals taped to the bathroom mirror—may help, and so can Navy Federal. Learn more about college or retirement planning, as well as the savings accounts and investments we offer to meet your needs and help you realize your dreams.