Set Yourself Up For Savings Success

No matter how low or lofty your savings goals are for this coming year, you won’t make much progress without a plan! Here’s our simple steps to help you set up your savings plan for 2021!

 

Goals

Clearly define your savings goals for the year. Use S.M.A.R.T goals to help you get them down on paper!

 

S.- Specific

M.- Measurable

A.-Attainable

R.- Relevant

T.- Time-Based

 

Example 1

Johnny wants to have an emergency fund of $5,000 by the end of the year. Johnny makes $35,000 per year and lives below his means and within his budget. He can comfortably put aside 15% of each paycheck into a savings account. This will put him at $5,250 at the end of the year.

 

Johnny’s goal is specific ($5,000 in 12 months). It’s measurable (in 12 months he will or he won’t have the money in his savings account). It’s attainable (we ran the math, it works.) The goal is relevant and time based.

 

Example 2

Jessica wants to have an emergency fund of $5,000 by the end of the year. Jessica makes $42,000 per year, but her rent was increased this year and she is struggling to make ends meet at the end of each month. She is only able to set aside 5% of each paycheck. She will only be able to save $2,100 by the end of the year.

 

Jessica’s goal is specific. It is measurable. But it is not attainable. The goal is relevant and time-based. Jessica will need to adjust her goal or make adjustments to her budget to reach her goal.

 

Yearly Review

If you’ve been following along with our blog series, you may have done a yearly review for this past year. If so, keep that handy so you can add in new expense to this coming year’s budget.

 

Set The Budget

Set up your monthly budget. Set up automatic payments when possible for recurring bills. Use a budget app or a plain old spreadsheet to help you keep track of the budget. Make sure you add in relevant changes as they happen. Account for routine car maintenance, fluctuations in your electricity bill when the seasons change, etc.

 

Forecast

Look ahead to identify months that you know you’ll be spending more than usual, like a month that is packed with holidays or family birthdays. This will allow you to account for those months and plan ahead.

 

Flexibility

Life is constantly throwing curve-balls. Flexibility is the key to managing those curve-balls and making sure that it doesn’t leave you in a rough spot. Your car may break down, you may lose a job or get a promotion! Be flexible but keep your sights on the goal.

 

Check In

It’s a good idea to reassess your goals every few months and take stock of your progress. You may find that those curve-balls call for an adjustment in your savings goal, which is perfectly fine. This isn’t a win or lose situation. It’ll be great if you meet your goal, but if you only get half-way there, you’re still miles ahead of where you started.

End of Year Budget Evaluations

As 2020 draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back and review your personal finances. If you’ve been keeping track of your finances this year, we’ve got some great tips to help you complete your end of year evaluation.

 

Review Month-by-Month

Take a look at each month for the past year and compare your best month to your worst. Find patterns in your spending and savings. Take note of major setbacks or windfalls to help you plan for next year. This may include electricity cost fluctuations between the seasons, car maintenance and other expenditures.

 

Evaluate Debts

Evaluate your debts and take note of personal accomplishments in paying down your debts. Tally up the debts that remain so that when you’re ready to plan next year’s budget it’ll be handy.

 

Evaluate Changes

Did you lose a job or get furloughed this year? Start a new job? Marry, divorce, add a baby to the family or move house? Any one of these life changes begs consideration when it comes to your personal finances. Notice the impact these changes have on your monthly budget.

 

Check Your Credit

It’s a good idea to check your credit with a soft inquiry (won’t affect your credit score) a few times a year to keep tabs on debt and check for errors or fraud. This will also help you when making your goals for next year.

 

Review Progress

Look back at the goals you set earlier this year and see where you stand in accomplishing them. Were you able to meet the goals? If you did not meet a certain goal, evaluate whether it’s still a current priority and put it on the list for 2021.

 

Review Policies

Review your life insurance policies and ensure that as your family’s needs change, you adjust your policy accordingly.

 

Acknowledge Setbacks

Did you fall short of your financial goals? Acknowledge missteps, mistakes and setbacks. Personal Finance is a skill and you’re still learning, so don’t get stuck in these setbacks. Acknowledge them and course-correct for next year.

Christmas On A Budget

This year has been especially hard on many families, and for some, Christmas is going to be a bit on the skinny side. We’ve got some great ideas to make your dollar stretch extra far and still make the holidays feel special!

 

Stick With Cash

Avoid using your debit or credit cards when shopping for the holidays. Instead, stick with cash and set a budget. You’ll be much more aware of your spending and won’t go over the budget if you’re using cash only.

 

Make A List and Check It Twice

Focus on your closest friends and family when making your Christmas shopping list. If you’ve got loads of niblings, purchase one gift per family. Board games area great family gift that won’t break the bank! Make a family night gift basket with hot cocoa, popcorn and a deck of cards too!

 

Secret Santa

Suggest to family members that a Secret Santa gift exchange will help everyone on a budget and set a dollar limit. This will allow everyone to receive a nice gift without breaking your budget!

 

Gift Limits

Rather than getting everything on your child’s wish list, choose 2-3 gifts. Share with children the spirit of giving and have them pick out a gift to give to a child in need!

 

Buy Used

No need to buy brand new for many gifts. Browse buy-sell groups on social media, Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp. You’ll save big on big ticket items!

 

Homemade and Heartfelt

Break out the craft supplies and put on your creative cap. Make stockings for family members and pack them with yummy homemade snacks! You’ll still be spending on supplies, but you’ll be saving a ton and giving a gift that will be cherished.

 

Put Your Skills To Use

If you’ve got a special set of skills, like cooking, handyman work, or anything else practical, you can create coupons for free lessons, oil changes, trim painting. If meeting in person isn’t practical, you can even record a personalized lesson or deliver it live via Zoom!

Holiday Gift Guide for Families

This year we have all learned to cherish what we have and to learn to live with a little less. Make this year, give experiences and memories instead of just material goods.

 

Subscription Boxes

Giving the gift of a subscription box will delight your loved one for months to come. With thousands of options, you can find a box for even the most unique interests.

 

Memory Gifts

Gift a custom memory gift, like blankets, pillows, mugs, water bottles and more. Get your loved one’s favorite picture printed and they’ll cherish it for years to come.

 

Book Bundles

For the avid reader in your life, purchase an e-reader gift card, Audible subscription or physical book bundle. They’ll love the chance to pick up some new reading material for the new year!

 

Memberships

Memberships are the gift that keeps on giving! Whether it’s a zoo or aquarium membership, theater or dance, invest in your favorite family member’s joy and get them connected to their passions.

 

Activity Kits

If you’ve got children in the family, they’ll love activity kits! From science to crafts, there’s a kit for every kid! Breaking open a geode to reveal million-year old crystals, creating a terrarium, or learning to sew will delight kids of all ages.

 

Board Games

Board games will give relatives countless hours of fun and family bonding time!

 

Online Courses

Companies like Udemy offer courses for every subject under the sun! Taught by professionals in their career field, these classes can teach programming, photography, languages, and so much more! Give the gift of education!

 

Airline Gift Cards

Though travel restrictions are in place for many countries, giving a gift card can help loved ones look forward to when vacations are back in vogue!

 

Classes

Art, dance, boxing or martial arts, paying for classes can help loved ones explore new hobbies or stay engaged in old favorites.