It’s easy to fall off track when saving up for special goals like a new home, a new car or a new addition to the household. Dinners and drinks here, concerts and ball games there — expenses can add up quickly, and before you know it, you’ve fallen behind in your savings plan.
Don’t despair, though — these clever budgeting hacks may be just what you need to avoid spending temptation, achieve your financial goals and even grow your savings in the New Year.
1. Visualize it
Are you working towards a tangible goal, such as a new car or home? If so, constant reminders of your objective may help you stick to your budget and inspire you to find ways to increase savings to meet your goal faster.
Post pictures of your goal around your home and office. Tape one to the corner of your bathroom mirror and on the fridge door. Use a digital image of the goal as your screensaver on your desktop at work, your laptop, tablet and smartphone. You’ll be faced with reminders of what you’re working towards everywhere you go.
2. Create subtle reminders
Reset passwords on your digital devices to remind yourself of savings or debt-paying goals. For example, say you want to pay off your $5,000 credit-card balance. Set your password to something like “paydown$5000.” If you’re saving for a home, set another password to “$10kdownpayment.”
Be careful not to use the same password for every device or online account. Rather, using multiple financial goals as password inspiration makes it more difficult for electronic fraudsters to get into your accounts. (As an added bonus, these passwords can have a combination of the letters, symbols and numbers often required by password generators.)
3. Celebrate it
Sticking to a budget and a financial plan is hard work, so celebrate small achievements, such as paying off the first $1,000 of a $5,000 debt, or the first $500 saved towards your new car. To do this, include an entertainment fund as part of your budget. Even if this is just $20 a week, using it to celebrate milestones in your long-term goals can help motivate you to stay committed to your financial future.
4. Avoid temptation
We all have them: Friends, places and activities that drag us down into budget-busting territory. Your best bet for dealing with them is to flat out avoid them.
Change your route to work to avoid the coffee shop selling $7 lattes, and bring a coffee in a travel mug from home instead. And don’t go to the bar with “just another drink” Joe or Jane, or you could be facing “just another” big bar tab that breaks the bank.
5. Lower your interest to maximize savings
How’s your credit? If it’s good, call your lenders to ask about qualifying for reduced rates on your loans, credit lines and even credit cards. Alternatively, consider opening a low-interest credit card and transferring higher balances to it to reduce interest. This helps you meet debt repayment goals faster, simplifies monthly payments and reduces the chance of missing a payment.
Don’t get discouraged when pursuing financial goals, even if they seem out of reach. Stay the course and try one or more of these budgeting tips starting today — your progress may surprise you.