Written by Tammy Greynolds, America Saves. Shared on iGrow by Carrie Johnson (former SDSU Extension Family Resource Management Specialist).
Very few of us have money at the ready to cover an emergency, never mind the money for the larger purchases we’d like to make. This is why it’s that much more important to prioritize savings to cover both the items you need as well as those you want.
Whether you’re saving for a new computer or a new-to-you car, the security deposit for an apartment or a down payment on house, a little planning and an easy-to-maintain budget will be instrumental in making your big ticket purchase a savings reality. With these direct and easy steps, big ticket items don’t have to be limited to big dreams:
- Set Your Goal. It’s easy to keep dreaming of the things you want or even things you might need, but making it a point to establish your big ticket item as an actual savings goal is a necessary first step in making the goal a reality.
- Do Your Research. Start with the most important question: how much is your large purchase going to cost? Some items, like a computer or a security deposit, will have a set dollar amount that you’ll need to save for, while other items, like a car or a home, will need to include associated costs for maintenance, insurance, and taxes/fees.
- Make a Plan. Once you know your goal and all of the costs associated with that goal, it’s time to dig into your budget to determine how much you’ll be able to save each month. You might need to make some changes to your spending to make savings (or additional savings) happen. Dividing your goal’s costs by the amount you’ll be able to save will also let you know how long you’ll need to save. When you know these two items, head over to AmericaSaves.org to take the pledge and put your savings plan into action.
- Automate Your Savings. Start a good saving habit by automatically moving the predetermined amount into your savings account each month. Employer-based direct deposit can move the amount straight from your paycheck into your savings account or you can set up an automatic transfer through your banking institution. Regardless of which method you choose, be sure to keep your savings in a separate savings account to watch your money accumulate with interest – the harder to access those funds, the better.
- Earmark windfall income. Depending on how long you’ve determined it will take to reach your savings goals, you may want to plan to move any additional unbudgeted income directly into savings. Receiving an end of year bonus? How about a tax refund? Since those funds aren’t a part of your established budget, you won’t miss the additional income by moving a portion of it into savings – plus, you’ll cut the time it takes to reach your goal!
To learn more about saving for a large purchase and take the America Saves pledge, visit AmericaSaves.org.