Whether it's a short road trip or a lengthy cross-country tour, you can't get to your destination without a plan. Similarly, planning is the most important step to realizing your financial goals. The following strategies can help.
Start with a plan
The first step is to determine your goals and objectives for the future and write them down. Putting the objectives and strategies for reaching them in writing will strengthen your commitment to saving and also allows for regular reviews and adjustments if your circumstances change.
Many goals seem so far in the future, it's natural to put off saving. But there are good reasons to start early. Thanks to the power of compounding interest, time has a dramatic effect on the growth of your savings. In fact, if you start saving in your 20s, you could see your money double several times before you reach retirement! No matter how young or old you are, starting today will bring the best rewards.
You might worry that the small amount you are able to save each week or month doesn't make saving worthwhile. But all large amounts are made up of small amounts. More frequent contributions bi-weekly or weekly, for example will put more of your money to work sooner and accelerate the growth of your savings through the power of compound interest. The chart below illustrates the difference that contributing regularly can make.
|See how much you can save*|
|Monthly Amount Saved||Total savings after:|
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
|Based on an annual savings rate of 4%.|
*Example is in USD funds.
An Automatic Savings Plan (ASP) can help with this. It automatically sets aside a set amount at regular intervals of your choosing. Most people coordinate their ASP with their payday cycle, so they don't even notice the money is being put aside.
Stick with the plan
Once you have an ASP in place, stay focused on your goal. Even if your financial situation changes down the road, it makes more sense to adjust the plan to your new circumstances rather than cancel it entirely.
Use annual reviews to stay on track
It's important to keep your plan on track. One way is to review your progress annually and consider adjustments that may enhance your plan as your circumstances change over time. As well, you should reassess your plan whenever there are major changes in your life. Some key life changes that may have an effect on your financial situation include: