(BPT) – Whether you’re planning for a short-term goal (e.g., emergency fund, home project) or a long-term goal (e.g., retirement), planning can help you succeed.
“It’s never too late to start making savings a priority. We want to help our members meet their short- and long-term goals, and there are several ways they can get started,” said Jaspreet Chawla, Senior Vice President of Savings Products at Navy Federal Credit Union.
1. Make SMART goals
A SMART goal can help you make a plan you can achieve. It can help you focus on what it will take to reach your goal and make a plan that’s doable. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. So, whether you’re saving for a new phone or a down payment on a house, make your goal specific, set a deadline, decide what it will take to reach it and then make sure it’s realistic.
2. Find ways to make small changes
The next step in your plan should be to look at how much you can afford to save and if there are expenses you might be able to cut.
For example, are there subscriptions or streaming services you don’t use? Can you ask insurers, or services like internet or phone providers, for a discount on your plan? If you make small changes gradually, you’ll be more likely to stick to your plan.
Keep in mind, cutting back on certain expenses doesn’t have to be forever — you can choose some for a temporary break.
3. Separate and automate your savings
It can be easier to see your progress if you set up two accounts: a checking account for regular bills like rent, student loans and car payments and another account for everything else.
Once you’ve decided what you can afford to save, consider setting up an automatic transfer. You’ll only have to do it once and then your savings will grow automatically.
“This is a guaranteed way to boost your savings,” explained Chawla. “If you have direct deposit, consider sending a set amount into your savings each pay cycle. This way you’ll be consistently saving without even thinking about it.”
4. Earn more on your money
If you’re looking at short-term savings goals (e.g., a dream vacation), you might want to consider putting your money into a certificate account. In general, certificates typically earn higher dividends than regular savings accounts, so you may reach your goal even sooner than you expected.
“By making small, habitual changes over time, you will set yourself up for success — it’s never too late to start,” added Chawla.
The best time to start building your future is now. Making SMART goals can help make saving more doable.
Navy Federal is federally insured by NCUA.