In our family, we love daily calendars. We’ve had some pretty good ones over the years. Ryan’s Dad Joke Daily gave us a chuckle each morning when the girls would read them over breakfast. This year, Sally got a “National Day Of…” calendar. Yesterday’s was National Hot Sauce Day, and like a true aficionado, Ryan celebrated with a taste test from his hot sauces collection. We laughed at him while he sweated away.
These calendars inspired me to create something similar for Mosaic: In 2024, we’ll be focusing on a different financial topic each month. With a whole week in February called America Saves Week, it’s the perfect theme for the month:
February is Savings Month!
Savings can be a tricky topic, but it’s a crucial piece of the financial mosaic. When we’re talking about our whole financial picture, it’s essential in getting us where we want to go. Savings, I feel I can safely say, is something you’ll never regret. Not one client I’ve worked with entering retirement has said, ”Geez, I guess I saved too much.”
With so many things begging for our attention, time, and money, it can be hard to set money aside for saving. How can we be motivated to save?
Here are a few steps we do as a family, and advice I share with friends and clients.
3 tips to find the motivation to save money:
Give your savings a purpose.
Identify what you’ll be doing with the money, and name the savings account. Is it an emergency fund, a retirement account, or vacation savings? Maybe you want to be able to work fewer hours or take your work experience and start your own business.An important note here: although I’ve never heard anybody wish they’d saved less, I have heard many of them wish they’d done more with the money they saved when they had a chance. It’s true that some savings should be tucked away for retirement and emergencies, but ideally, other savings are only saved temporarily—until you use it for the purpose you gave it.
Make it automatic.
You can save into your employee-sponsored retirement account by setting up automatic contributions directly from your paychecks. You can also do this personally: as a family, we set up automatic payments that go from our checking account to our emergency savings fund. We also have automatic payments set up to go into a vacation/fun account as well as into each of the girls’ savings accounts.
Paying down debt.
Did you know: paying off debt can be a form of savings, too. You can set it up to be automatic, and once your debt is gone, immediately allocate that same amount of money you were paying into savings. You were already used to having it removed from your cash flow, so why not put it into savings?
When we name what we’re saving for, we give it purpose and that helps us to be motivated to keep going. Over time, giving our money purpose helps us to lessen the burden of debt, gather wealth, and form good financial habits.
This February, I encourage you to make Savings Month your own. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: name your savings.
I challenge you to sit down by yourself or with your family and give purpose to your savings. By the end of February, can you identify 3 new savings purposes? Dream a little; it could be fun and motivating.
Ryan and I recently poured some wine and sat down at the computer together to just see where we were at with his 401k contributions. We realized we could be saving more money by increasing his retirement contribution, a long-term investment that will compound over the years. Instead of putting money from his cash flow into shorter-term savings, like a vacation fund, we decided that more long-term focused savings would allow us more money in the future when we want to have money to take the girls on vacations. We also couldn’t help dreaming together about what our “retirement” will look like.
With this conversation, we gave our retirement money purpose and the ability to grow over the long term.
Keep in mind that savings don’t always have to be black and white; they can fluctuate during different stages of our lives.
We have to give ourselves grace and pay attention to how our lives are changing and how much we have. There may be times when we have to be flexible—paying for that burst water pipe or new heating unit out of the vacation savings is no fun at all, but at least we had the money saved. I would love to hear what you come up with for your savings plans this month—feel free to email me here! We all come to our finances differently, and it’s a joy to learn from what works for you and your family. When we share what we’re doing and learning, it helps us to keep going and make sure to keep taking action.
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