Published in: Banks | Jan. 25, 2019

How to Achieve Your Savings Goals in 2019

By:  Lyle Daly

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Jar filled with coins and labeled Savings.

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Want to save more money this year?

You're not alone there, as saving money is a popular goal, with 37% of Americans even making it one of their New Year's resolutions. But simply wanting to save more isn't enough. Here's how you can turn those savings dreams into reality.

Set specific, concrete savings goals

You're much more likely to be successful with a savings goal if you figure out:

  • What it's for
  • The amount you need
  • Your deadline

These details help you calculate exactly how much you need to save each month and keep you motivated to achieve your goal.

Here's the difference between good and bad savings goals -- a bad goal would be, "I'm saving for a vacation." Without going into more detail about your desired vacation, you won't feel very attached to the goal, so it will be hard to stay motivated. Since you don't have an amount and a deadline, you won't know how much you need to save every month.

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A good savings goal would be, "I'm saving $2,000 for a trip to Hawaii in 10 months." Now you have a goal you can sink your teeth into. You know you need to save $200 per month, which will be $100 per paycheck if you get paid biweekly. And you have a goal that matters to you, giving you motivation even when you'd rather not save.

You can set any type of savings goal this way and break it down into smaller steps. For example, if you're 30 years old and want to save at least $200,000 for retirement by the time you're 50, then you'll need to stash away $10,000 per year.

Be realistic about how much you can save

We all like to dream big, and it's good to challenge yourself, but it's also important to be realistic with your savings goals. If you aim too high, you're more likely to get discouraged when you discover that you can't save enough.

Before you set savings goals, figure out how much money you have left over after paying your bills each month. This will give you an idea of how much you could save and what kind of goals are within your reach.

Remember that you'll probably have some discretionary spending here and there, so you shouldn't assume that you can save every last dollar of your disposable income. When you get too strict with your budget, you're bound to burn yourself out.

Choose the right savings tools

There are plenty of places you can put your money, and the ones you choose will depend in large part on your goals. A lot of people don't think about this too much, but that can cause you to miss out on earning a better return. Here are some general guidelines on what type of accounts to consider based on your saving timeline:

Short-term goals (within a year) -- These are the smaller financial goals, such as a vacation, a down payment on a car, or new furniture. Stick with the best bank accounts here, where your money can earn a bit of interest and will be easy for you to access. High-interest savings accounts work well for this, as do money market accounts if you can deposit enough to earn the highest interest rate.

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Mid-range goals (two to 10 years) -- These are big-ticket goals that will require more saving, such as down payments on a home or a major remodel. Since you'll spend more time saving for these, you should consider opening an investment account with one of the top stock brokers, where your money could earn a greater return. While stocks can be volatile, bonds are a more conservative option that will still typically earn more than any bank account.

Long-term wealth-building (over 10 years) -- Once you get into long-term saving, an investment account is your best bet. If you have an employer-sponsored plan available, that's most likely the way to go, as there could be an employer match for any contributions you make. Other options include investing in index funds or opening your own individual retirement account.

Automate your savings

Once you know how much you need to save, it's a matter of setting that money aside after every paycheck. The best way to do this is by automating the process so there's nothing required on your end.

You can typically have direct deposits split among different accounts, such as your checking and savings accounts. Or, you can have a set amount automatically transferred from your checking account to another account every month.

It may not seem like a big deal, but this will give you one less obstacle to saving, which makes you more likely to follow through with it.

Meeting your savings goals

Savings goals are a great way to put more money away consistently. You can use that money for any big purchases you have coming up so that you won't need to go into debt to pay for them, and you can also set goals that will help you increase your wealth and build a retirement nest egg.

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