It seems like some New Year’s Resolutions are universal. Getting out of debt and saving money often top the list, or perhaps take a close second behind losing weight. But if you’ve read any of the “how to set New Year’s resolutions and actually keep them” articles then you know that vague, general wishes fall apart faster than a cheap Christmas toy from the dollar rack at a big-box retailer.
That’s why we must set goals, right? Goals are specific, with clearly defined outcomes and actual plans for success. In other words, “I’m going to save more money” is likely to fail, whereas, “I’m going to save $X from each paycheck during 2017” is more likely to succeed, provided you set yourself up to do so.
Savings Strategies for Successful Stashing
First things first, if you’re going to save money you need to know why you’re saving money. If there’s no reward for the effort then the effort will likely be derailed by a pair of cute shoes or a sudden craving for pizza. Why do you want to save money? Do you want to have some cash to spend on Christmas gifts next year (more on that here)? Do you want to save up for a new car or to remodel your house (more on that here)? Do you need a larger stash for your children’s education or your own retirement? You need to have a clear picture of why you are saving so you’ll be able to resist the temptations that will inevitably come up on your path to a stash of cash. (More on the importance of identifying why you want to save here.)
Next, you need a budget. If you don’t plan where the money is going, it will just go bye-bye and you’ll be left wondering what happened to it. You have to know that it’s reasonable to expect to save $X and how you’re going to do that and still pay the bills. (More on setting up a budget here, but read the why article first!)
Third, you must save first. In other words, before you spend anything from your paycheck, you must set aside $X. Set the money aside before you buy groceries. Set it aside before you pay bills. Set it aside first, except for giving to God, because He’s always first, but first thing after Him. Remember why you’re saving. Close your eyes and see the goal. Imagine how wonderful it will feel to reach the goal. Then set the money aside first.
Saving in Real Life
My husband and I started saving for our son’s education when our boy was just a baby. We started with $5 out of every paycheck. It wasn’t much, but it was all we could afford at the time, and it got us started in the mindset of setting aside money for our child’s future. By the time our son had a little sister, saving for the kids was a normal part of our budget.
This year I’d like to save a few dollars each pay period, but not for a specific spending goal. I’d like to do it as a matter of discipline. I’ve felt a little out of control since we’ve moved, so I need a goal like this to help myself buckle down and get back into my homemaking grove.
I’d love to hand my husband a stack of cash a year from now, or perhaps show him a dollar amount in an account, that we can donate to a worthy cause or use to do something fun or buy something we want…or some combination of those. The look on his face would be priceless! I know that I need to keep track of my goals to stay the course and see that look, so I’ve expanded a chart I first saw over at The Survival Mom.
The Survival Mom article to which I linked above suggests a 52 week savings plan, but it also lists some of the problems with the plan and chart she provides, so I created my own version of the 52 Week Savings Challenge chart to share with you. My chart is specifically set up with dates for 2017, but I also listed week numbers so you can join in at any time. I set up my chart for a consistent savings amount rather than an increasing one, so you’re saving $X per week, where X may be 2 or 5 or 10 or 26.50.
Right click on the chart image to save it for printing.
If $26.50 per week seems like a strange amount to save, look at the chart at The Survival Mom. In order to save the $1378 you’d have if you followed that plan, the average savings per week would be $26.50. I think it’s easier to plan a budget with a consistent savings amount, but of course you should do what works for you!
My plan is to start stashing my cash in this cute jar that somebody gave us for Christmas. It was originally filled with sweets, but I think it’ll be pretty sweet to watch my savings accumulate, at least until it gets to be too much to keep in the house, at which point my stash will go in the bank where it belongs. I’ll use my chart to keep track of my progress but will watch the jar fill up for inspiration.
Warning: If having a stash of actual cash will cause you to develop cravings for pizza delivery or cute shoes, do not keep the cash where you can get to it easily! Put it in the bank. Have a trusted friend or family member hold it for you. Do something to help you keep your eyes on the prize (the “why”).
So that’s my first goal for 2017…to regain some discipline in my life by stashing a little cash each pay period. I have other goals, but I hope this one will spur me on to the rest. I’d love to have you join me so we can encourage each other to grow our Ca$h $ta$h!
Will you build your Ca$h $ta$h with me this year? Why do you want to save some money?
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Update: This post was shared at Pretty Pintastic Party #138, The Homemaking Party (1/4/17), Home Matters Linky Party #117, Blogger’s Spotlight Link Party #45, Happiness is Homemade Link Party #152, and The Art of Home-Making Mondays #138.