Savings provide an experience of safety, security and peace of mind, as well as a sense that you are setting up your future life according to what’s important to you. When you know you are allocating your resources in a way that takes into account the present moment AND the long term future, you can experience the confidence and wisdom that comes from taking care of your future self.
While contemplating your savings practice, it’s important to understand this:
Just as there are cycles of seasons in nature, there are cycles with money.
Anyone who lives off the land knows that resources are not in a constant state of production. There are times for accelerated growth, and abundant harvest — as well as times of slowness, loss, and barrenness.
The more you can expect both sides of the spectrum, and see them ultimately as natural as the seasons changing, the more you will experience equanimity. Your savings practices will provide a reserve, so you don’t need to experience stress, anxiety, or fear — or take on debt, strain your relationship, or face financial losses when lean times appear. A savvy saver plans for both the expected and unexpected.
Here are 7 tips to help you be a Savvy Saver, strong and courageous in all the cycles of money in your life:
1. Have a specific purpose or intention
In order to effectively accumulate reserves, it helps to know exactly what you’re saving for. If your intention is to avoid the stress that comes when an annual payment is due or an unexpected dental bill arrives, you will feel amazing knowing that every month you are allocating funds into a periodic savings account. You can relax and know the money will be available when these instances occur.
2. Break up your savings into different buckets
If you allocate your savings into separate accounts for different expenses, such as planning for the unexpected, home improvement, or travel, you will know you have the resources available for those needs and wants as they arise.
Sometimes if you have only one general savings account, it feels challenging to draw from it. It can feel like you are harming your “golden goose” or draining the funding for your dreams and goals. But if you separate your accounts, it will feel very clear that you are using what you have made available while continuing to save for your other priorities.
3. Start with 1 savings category and have sustainable success with that first.
I recommend building your periodic expense category first. This covers medical and dental bills, any lumped annual payments (such as auto insurance or registration), home and auto repairs, and any unexpected expenses. You can be sure that these expenses will come up, and if you have built this type of cushion into your financial strategy you will feel prosperous and powerful— which will fuel continued success with saving.
4. Name your savings accounts in your banking and tracking systems
People who give their savings accounts inspiring names are 20x more successful than those who don’t. Name your categories according to your priorities. For example, generic, bland “savings account” becomes much more exciting when it is called “have a family”, “travel the world” or “golden goose”. When you see the names, you automatically associate your savings practices with your dreams and goals— and are much more likely to do what it takes to stick to them.
5. Determine what monthly amount will be successful
Make sure you know exactly what fits into your current budgets and maps of intention. Don’t force yourself to give up everything in your discretionary spending because that will lead to a feeling of deprivation, which could sabotage your success. Likewise, try to remember the reason you want to save money and find places where you feel inspired to re-allocate spending in an expansive way.
6. Put monthly deposits on auto-pilot
Once you’ve chosen the appropriate amount to save each month, in each category, put the transfer on autopilot. You can do this through your bank, or through an online system like www.smartypig.com. Then you can relax and know that you are planning for a prosperous and thriving future each month.
7. Have a specific goal
While intentions are based on the feeling or experience you want to have, goals are specific and can be measured in terms of amount and time. Getting clear about your goals will help to hold you accountable. Measuring each month tells you how closely you’ve stuck to what you want and reveals what you still need to do.