Who’s excited to save some money? I am!
For the past few years, Mr. Taco and I have chosen a date at the start of the new year to sit down, eat some donuts, and figure out our money plan for the year.
This is the day we decide what savings goals we want to focus on for the year.
I love this day!
But this year, the excitement quickly deflated.
As we looked at our lists of the things we wanted to put our money towards, we quickly realized that it wasn’t possible to save for everything we wanted in a reasonable amount of time.
That campervan we want to start saving for? Yeah, it’s gonna’ take us five years to save for it. What’s the point if we have to wait that long?
After a few moments of frustration, I took a step back and had a moment of clarity.
I got this.
I’ve been creating savings plans that work for me for the past few years. I can definitely figure out how to create a savings plan that I don’t hate that still gets me to my goals.
I dug deep, discovered a few tricks, and created a plan to get us successfully through the year and closer to our savings goals.
And it’s a plan I don’t think we will resent.
If you want to start saving money for your goals but are overwhelmed when it comes to figuring out how to save for everything you want, then you’ve come to the right place.
Here are a few tricks that I’ve learned throughout the years to create a savings plan to help efficiently save for the things I want so I can live a life that I love.
And the best part is that I don’t feel like I’m being so strict that it drags me down throughout the year.
Why Do You Need a Savings Plan?
A savings plan is a list of all of your savings goals and how much you plan to contribute to all of those savings goals over a period of time. It’s a simple concept with powerful outcomes when implemented.
A Savings Plan Helps You Be Intentional With Your Money
In the past, when I didn’t have a plan for the money left over after paying my monthly living expenses, I simply spent money on whatever I wanted, whenever I had it.
This led to lots of unused kitchen gadgets, clothes I barely wore, take-out I didn’t need because I had food at home, and impulsive vacations that drained my savings.
I discovered that without a savings plan, your money can easily wander aimlessly in and out of your life with no real purpose.
But with a plan in place, you can take control of your money and use it intentionally for things that you know are important to you.
A Savings Plan Helps You Make Savings a Priority
By creating a savings plan, stashing cash for your goals starts to become a priority in your life.
And when savings becomes a priority, trimming the excess from your expenses becomes easier.
Realizing that the $100 you spent on a night out is $100 more you need to save for your vacation next month gets you to start thinking critically about each expense.
A savings plan will bring to light the trade-offs that come with each spending decision.
Between helping you cut your expenses and bringing more intention into your money decision, a savings plan can be a real game-changer.
How to Create a Savings Plan
Step 1. Know your expenses
You can’t create a savings plan without first knowing how much money you have to assign to your savings goals.
The easiest way to do this is to start tracking your expenses.
Once you have an idea of how much your actual expenses are, you can assign the rest of your income to your savings goals!
And if you find out that you don’t have any money left over after covering your expenses, then this is simply your starting point if you want to try and commit more money to savings goals.
Ask yourself where you can cut back to create a gap between your income and your expenses so you start to live off of less of your income. When you start to live off of less of your income, you start to open up the possibility of putting money towards your savings goals.
Step 2. Save for future you
When I created my savings plan, I started with my super long term goals, like retirement.
Saving for your future well-being is extremely important, yet so many of us put it off. And we put it off because it’s so far in the future.
My advice? Don’t do this. Save what you can now and your future self will thank you.
Take advantage of retirement accounts available to you.
If you are already saving for retirement. start by taking a look at where you are currently in your retirement savings by plugging your numbers into a few retirement calculators.
Paying attention to how you are progressing towards your retirement is so important. Check in on it once a year. Don’t ignore it because it’s in the distant future.
From there you will know if you need to increase your savings going towards retirement. Or maybe you find you can back off because your younger self kicked total ass and started saving early.
Step 3. Set Up Sinking Funds for Your Non-retirement Savings Goals
Once you know how much money you want to put towards your retirement, now it’s time to save for your other financial/life goals.
These goals are things like home and car purchases, starting a business, starting a family, tuition for college, lifestyle goals, vacations, home and car repairs, and the list goes on and on.
My favorite tool to save up for non-retirement financial goals is sinking funds. And you can create a sinking fund for anything your little heart desires. They are amazing, and a total game-changer to help you on your savings journey.
A sinking fund is money you set aside (usually by saving a bit each month) to cover large upcoming expenses (hello, Christmas!) or future financial goals.
You can create sinking funds by having separate savings accounts, keeping an excel spreadsheet, using budgeting software like YNAB, or even pen and paper.
By setting up sinking funds for your future goals and expenses, you are setting a goal, gradually working towards that goal, and then reaping the benefits once you have achieved the goal.
Related post: Sinking Funds: Why You Need Them and How to Get Started
Tips for Sticking to Your Savings Plan
Now that you have an idea of how to create your very own savings plan, it’s time to figure out how to do the hardest part —sticking to your savings plan and not resenting it along the way.
Make Your Savings Plan Realistic and Flexible
In order to stick with a savings plan, it has to be doable. You don’t want it to feel restrictive.
This is why Step 1 is so important. You have to know what your current expenses are.
If you don’t know how much money you have to stash into your savings plan, then you run the risk of overcommitting yourself. And when you overcommit yourself, it’s a lot easier to fail to meet your goal, feel defeated, and give up on your plan altogether.
We don’t want this to happen. We want you to fill those savings buckets slowly but surely and feel on top of the world when you hit those goals.
Therefore, when making your plan, only commit the money you know that you have available specifically for your savings plan.
Also recognize that your priorities may change. Allow yourself the freedom to adjust your savings plan as you see fit.
Automate Your Savings Plan as Much as Possible
Automatically having your money allocated to your savings plan helps ensure you will at least attempt to stick to your goals.
It doesn’t mean that money will automatically stay there, but at least you can give it a good start by getting it into your savings as quickly as possible.
You can do this through direct deposit from your paycheck, or by setting up routine automatic transfers from your checking to your savings accounts.
You Don’t Have to Save for All of Your Savings Goals at the Same Time
We all want to save for all of the things that our little hearts desire, but it’s not always possible to save for everything at once.
If you try to save for everything at once, you run the risk of never being able to actually meet any of your goals in a reasonable amount of time.
For example, I want to buy a campervan within the next year or two. But if I continue to slowly save for all of my known savings goals, like major home repairs that will be needed in 5+ years, it’s going to take me way longer than I want to save for a campervan.
By trying to save for too many things at once, I’m spreading myself too thin. And that is not an ideal situation for me.
An option I have is to divert some of the money I am currently putting into my home upkeep savings to my campervan savings. I can do this for a year and then start back up with the home maintenance savings after I meet my campervan goal.
This will then allow me to put all of the money I was putting towards the campervan back into my home maintenance savings. That way I can meet my campervan savings goal quicker while still being able to meet my home maintenance savings goal timeline.
The lesson here is that you don’t have to fill every savings bucket each and every month. All you need to do is create a savings plan that allows you to save enough money in the timeline that is necessary for you.
Don’t Forget to Save for Some Good Old Fun
Make sure to have a few sinking funds dedicated to some good old fashioned fun to experience in the near future.
It’s so much more motivating to save money for your future expenses if you are also saving for something fun that you can enjoy now.
Yes, we have to make sure we cover our future asses and save for our future expenses, but don’t forget to have some fun along the way.
I got caught up in this recently. I was putting so much money into saving for the distant future needs that I forgot that I should really try to enjoy life right now. I realized that it may be beneficial to loosen up the reins a bit and save for something fun like that darn campervan to use while I’m still somewhat young.
Use Your Saving Plan Goals and Dreams as Motivation to Cut Your Current Expenses
Don’t give up when you realize that you currently don’t have enough extra income after expenses to save for that vacation that you’ve been dreaming of.
One of my favorite things about creating a savings plan is that it allows you to see how your current spending affects your ability to save for your future desires.
When you are creating your savings plan and you come to a point where you don’t have enough money to save for your goals, take a look at your spending habits and see if there is any fluff to cut out.
And believe me, with your dreams in mind, you’ll be motivated to cut out that fluff when you see what else that money can do for you.
My savings plan is part of what I call my money plan. And it’s the main reason why I’ve been able to reduce my expenses. It’s not because I simply wanted to spend less. It’s because I became motivated to use my money for other financial goals and dreams in my savings plan.
If you want to create your own money plan to help you start saving money each month, check out How to Finally Reach Your Savings Goals: A 5-step plan with worksheet.
You Got This
Now that you got the itch to start saving some money, go ahead and create that savings plan that you don’t resent.
Know your limits, remain flexible, and commit to achieving your savings goals no matter how long it takes you to get there.
With a little planning and some perseverance, your savings plan will guide your money and help you create a life that you love.
And don’t forget to have a little fun along the way.