If you’ve ever stuck to a regimented eating plan to reach a weight-loss goal, you know how challenging it can be to continue on the path of healthy eating once the scale displays that magic number you’ve been working toward.
Restarting a savings plan when you’ve already diligently saved — and spent — the money allocated for the down payment on your new home is much the same way. You managed to reach a monumental peak, and switching your mindset back to saving just feels like deprivation.
If you are ready to restart your savings plan, these ideas will jump-start your motivation and help you continue to reinforce your financial foundation.
1. Try a savings challenge
Are you motivated by a good challenge? Then turning your financial goals into a game can give your competitive nature an awesome outlet — your bank account.
The 52-week savings challenge pushes you to save an allocated amount each week — $1 for week one, $2 for week two, $3 for week three, etc. Despite the small deposits in the beginning, by week 52 you’ll have $1,378 saved.
Another challenge that can yield big results is the “no spend” challenge. Say goodbye to mindless spending and commit to a period when no money will go to anything besides necessities (i.e., your mortgage, food, and utilities). Take the amount you now have left over at the end of the month and sock it away.
2. Attach saving to treating yourself
Hard work shouldn’t come without reward, and saving is no different.
Once you’ve determined the what, when, and why of your savings goals, decide on a percentage you can spend once you’ve reached them.
Say you need to build up your emergency fund buffer to a comfortable $15,000. Once you’ve reached that goal, allow yourself 10% to spend on something of your choosing.
If you’re not motivated by the goal (and an emergency fund might be a hard thing to muster up excitement for), you will at least be excited about the reward at the end.
3. Use visual cues
It’s easy to let everyday spending take precedence over saving when the end goal seems so far away. After all, we are far more attached to the here and now than a milestone we can’t picture reaching.
However, visual cues — such as pictures or notes — can remind you of what you’re working toward and why, and help redirect spending behavior in the moment.
The more you see the visual cue, the better. So plaster them around your house, in your car, at your desk, and more importantly, on the credit or debit card that you use for the majority of your spending.
When your spending has been adjusted, you will notice a shift in the amount of funds available for saving.
4. Think of money in terms of freedom
When saving is equated with deprivation, it’s virtually impossible to get on board with a savings plan. It begins to feel like a cruel form of punishment more than anything else.
Thoughts spur or hinder behavior, so why not change the way you think about the entire savings process?
Saving is actually about creating freedom — freedom to live the life you want. It’s about being intentional with everyday financial decision making so you can decide what you want instead of having the decision made for you.
Instead of calling it your savings account, call it your “freedom fund” and start thinking about how you want to create financial freedom for yourself.
Have you ever fallen into a savings rut? How did you get out? Share your tips and stories in the comments below!