Where do you start when it comes to saving money? Starting by setting savings goals is a must, no matter how large or small those objectives are they are. They create an endpoint, one that you can work toward.
Consider your financial priorities as a first step. Knowing what’s essential to you and your well-being is important, and creating goals based on those expectations is vital. Here’s some insight to get you started
Short-Term Savings Goals
What short-term savings goals do you have? Short-term goals are those you hope to complete in 3 to 5 years. Short-term goals require great savings discipline, and your savings should involve a limited amount of risk.
For example, a savings account is a good starting point; the money there could help you establish an emergency fund.
Examples of great short-term savings goals:
- Create an emergency fund with at least $1,000. Then, work to build that to 3 to 6 months of your salary or your monthly expenses.
- Save for a vacation that’s special to you. You can put money aside for a trip that will help you build memories.
- Put money aside for bigger purchases. This could include new appliances for your home, a new laptop, or the latest mobile phone. What big-ticket items do you know you’ll need in the coming few years?
Intermediate Savings Goals
Intermediate savings goals extend even further in time, and it will take longer to reach these goals and require consistent work. You may attain these mid-term goals in six to 10 years. These could be bigger goals, like opening a business or buying a home. You can also save for the next 10 years for something
particular for yourself, like an RV or a boat. Remember, it is up to you to determine what is most valuable and worthy of saving for each goal.
Intermediate savings goals have more tolerance for risk. If you put money in the stock market, for example, and your investment takes an adverse turn, if you don’t plan to use these funds for quite some time, there’s still ample time to recover from that and rebuild your wealth. Bonds are another option for intermediate goals. They allow you to have less risk for at least some of your savings, and you could put the rest into more risky stocks or mutual funds that interest you.
Some examples of intermediate savings goals may include:
- A down payment on a home could be your priority. You don’t want to wait too long to buy a home.
- Home renovations may take some time and could be a mid-length goal.
- College for yourself or the kids may be your priority now.
Long-Term Savings Goals
Long-term savings goals will take you 10 years or longer to reach. These are the bigger-picture savings goals, things you want or need later in life. The most common long-term goal is retirement; for others, it could be the ability to start a job or invest in a vacation property. Define what makes you happen and establish that as your goal.
When it comes to long-term goals, you certainly have more time to put money aside, and that means there’s more time to help you recover should your stocks or other investments do poorly for some time. That is why many people invest in slightly higher-risk strategies for this type of investing. However, if you plan to return in 12 years, you don’t want to put all your money into high-risk investments and leave it there.
Long-term goals to consider include:
- Retirement plans that offer tax advantages should be a must to start now.
- Starting a new business may be a decision you want to make.
- Buying investment property to help you fund your retirement goals and needs.
- Early retirement could also be something you save for.
Saving Strategies by Goal Type
Consider some savings strategies and how they may apply when it comes to any of these goals.
Short-term savings strategies may include the following lower-risk options:
- High-yield savings accounts
- Short-term government bonds
- Money market accounts
- Certificate of deposits
Mid-length savings strategies may include:
- Lower-risk stocks
- Lower-risk mutual funds
- Brokerage accounts
- 529 college plans
Long-term savings strategies may include:
- Employer-sponsored retirement plans
- Stocks with more risk
Where will you get started? Pick one area in each of these three levels and create a plan to start working toward your future.
Published July 2023