Let’s face it – New Year’s Resolutions are hard to stick to, whether they are financial goals, health goals, whatever. So, how do we help ourselves stick to a goal of saving money or getting out of debt? Check out the following tips to help improve your bank account in 2020.
Set a SMART Goal
SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. SMART goals can help you break apart your goal and understand what it will really take to achieve it. For example, if you want to save money, your SMART goal could be “Save $5,000 by the end of 2020.” Setting a certain amount ($5,000) makes the goal specific and measurable, and “the end of 2020” makes it time-bound. Make sure that the goal you are setting is actually possible for you – if the amount you are trying to save each month means you’ll have to live off of pennies and ramen noodles, choosing a smaller goal for now will help you stay on track in the long run.
Start with Easy Wins
It is much easier to stick to a goal when the “end” of the goal is not a whole 365 days away. Break up your end goal to give yourself small wins. For instance, one of your goals could be to “save $200 each paycheck.” For each paycheck that you put away $200, that’s a win to celebrate! If you want to go even smaller, you could say, “pack lunch 3 days this week,” or “make your own coffee 4 days this week.” Small goals like these are steps on your way to reaching your bigger end goal.
We’ve all heard the saying, “can’t miss what you never had.” That’s the mantra we are channeling with the idea of automating your savings. If you already have retirement contributions set up to come out of your paycheck before it ever reaches your checking account, you know what we’re talking about. Set up automatic transfers to deposit money into your savings account each time you get paid. If it doesn’t feel like you’re missing or losing anything when you’re saving money, it is much easier to swallow. This method is also the path of least resistance – if you don’t have to actually “do anything” for the money to end up in your savings account, it is more likely to happen.
We all deserve a little treat sometimes! Rewards also help our brains stay on track. Try to reward yourself when you hit certain milestones. For instance, if your goal is saving $5,000 in a year, try going out to eat or grabbing an extra latte after each $1,000 you save. Be sure not to splurge so much that you throw yourself off track.
Keep Your Goals Front and Center
It is much easier to stick to a goal when you are constantly being reminded of that goal – especially if you can relate it to something emotional. For instance, if your goal is to save $10,000 for your upcoming wedding, being reminded of your special day is great motivation to make it happen. Put your engagement photos or photos of your dream wedding dress in places you will see them often – your phone background, your computer wallpaper, in your wallet, etc. If you’re constantly being reminded of why you’re doing something, it is much easier to keep yourself from faltering and spending more than you should on something else.
Bonus Savings Tip:
Reach your goal faster by placing the money you’ve saved in an interest-bearing account so your money works for you! Patriot offers a continuous saver certificate account that allows you to make deposits in increments of $10 or more and earn a much higher interest rate than in a regular savings account. These accounts incur penalties if you remove the money before a set date, which can serve as extra motivation not to take any money out until you’ve reached your goal. Visit https://www.patriotfcu.org/personal-banking/certificates/ or any of our branches to learn more.