Start small. Think big.

What is the difference between a dream and a goal? 

A dream is a vague idea with undefined steps. “I want to travel to Italy.” This is a dream with no action steps to make the dream a reality. A goal is specific plan with defined steps. “I want to run a 5k on July 4th and I will run one mile, three days a week until the day of the race.” This goal names the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. It defines the desired result and the steps to achieve the goal. Virginia Saves encourages people to create a financial goal and make a plan to achieve it.

When enrolling at Virginia Saves, new savers make a savings commitment. The form asks for a goal, amount saved per month, number of months and total saved amount. A good savings goal has 3 parts: the amount to be saved, the period of time and the purpose of the savings.

Here are two examples:

1. I will save $30 for 12 months for Emergency savings.
            $30 x 12 months = $360
That would be a nice emergency savings. The emergency savings is money set aside for unforeseen problems that arise.

2. I will save $25 for 10 months for Christmas.
            $25 x 10 months (February through November) = $250
Christmas would look pretty Merry with $250 set aside for gift giving. A family with children in the home will enjoy the money saved in December for holiday gifts.  In January, the Ghost of Christmas Past will not visit when the credit card bill is opened.

Both of these examples will help a family’s financial situation.

Success is will be more likely if the goal is realistic.
  • The amount should be 10% or less of income. Attempting to squeeze the budget too tight to save quickly can hurt long term motivation.
  • Start Small. The first savings goal should be relatively small. A new saver should try a small savings goal which can be achieved quickly. A successful experience will add confidence.
  • Total amount saved should cover the expense of the goal. Saving $100 for a plane ticket will not help if the ticket will cost $150.

Here is an example of a goal that needs some adjustment:

I will save $3 a month for 12 months for a reliable used car.
            $3 x 12 months = $36
That is not going to buy much of a car! If the goal is a $2000 car, then the monthly amount saved will need to be increased and the length of time to save will also need to be extended.

A great saving strategy is to ‘Pay Yourself First’. Save money out of each paycheck before paying bills. Another great strategy is to make savings automatic. Set up a direct deposit or transfer savings from a checking account in a savings account.

The amount saved is not as important as starting the habit of saving.  Increase the amount saved each month when possible. Send a portion of a tax refund to savings with the split refund.

Start an Emergency Fund! Money set aside for the unexpected is the first step to a successful financial future.

What is your savings goal? Let Virginia Saves motivate you to discover for yourself the peace of mind that accompanies having money in the bank.

Share your savings goal at!

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