12.19.2023 By Amy Miller

Saving for Competing Priorities

With a little planning and focus, you can create a plan that allows you to work toward the goals most important to you. Here are a few steps to take to get started.

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Saving for everything that is important to you can seem overwhelming at times – there are so many things you may want to achieve financially and many of us find ourselves wondering which ones we should focus on first.  

It’s important to have a plan in place for handling these competing priorities in order to balance them and work to achieve them all without getting overwhelmed and frustrated.  

With a little planning and focus, you can create a plan that allows you to work toward the goals most important to you. Here are a few steps to take to get started:   

Get a Clear View  

To truly be in control and able to handle your competing priorities, start by getting a clear view of your finances. It’s important to look at what you have coming in, what is going out, and what your goals are for the future. Gather your pay stubs and bank statements, then use our spending and savings plan tool to help decide what savings opportunities are possible for your current situation. 

Set Realistic Goals  

Once you know what you have available to save, it’s time to set some realistic goals.  

Ask yourself - what are the things I want to achieve the most? It may be an emergency fund, retirement, a vacation, a new car, or putting the kids through college – whatever it may be, make a written list of your financial goals. Studies show that savers with a written plan are 2X more likely to succeed.  

Remember that goals should be SMART.  

S – Specific: What are you Saving for?  

M – Measurable: How much do you want to save?  

A – Achievable: Is this possible?  

R – Relevant: Does this really matter to me?  

T – Time-Oriented: When would I like to achieve this goal?  

An example of a SMART goal could be:  

Saving $500 over the next year to create an emergency fund  

It’s specific, measurable, achievable with proper planning, relevant to current goals, and has a time frame attached.  

List & Rank Your Goals  

Prioritizing financial goals can help you pursue them more successfully.  Once you have your SMART goals outlined, divide them based on their time horizon in the following categories:  

Short Term:  Goals that can be achieved in a year or close to it and may include building an emergency fund, buying a new computer or going on a family vacation.  

Mid-Term: These goals may take a little longer to achieve. Typically, around 5 years and includes things like paying down large amounts of debt or saving for a down payment on a new home.  

Long-Term: Goals that usually take more than 5 years to achieve fall into this category and include retirement, building your forever home, or paying for your child’s college.   

Save Automatically  

Saving automatically is the easiest and best way to save successfully. Visit your Human Resources department and set up a split deposit from your paycheck that goes directly to savings. If that’s not an option, set up an auto transfer from checking to your savings on a set day of the week or month.  

Be Creative & Find Ways To Meet Your Goals  

We understand that saving can be tough – especially during these hard economic times, however, saving doesn’t have to be about sacrifices and pinching pennies. There are a few simple and easy ways to find extra money that you can stick aside for all the things that matter most to you.   

Here’s a list of a few ideas we’ve put together:  

  1. Check your recurring subscription charges. Are there any that aren’t being used or aren’t necessary that can be canceled? Many are surprised to find they are paying monthly fees for services they aren’t actually using.  

  2. Review your insurance coverage and shop around. Your needs may have changed since your last renewal, which could result in savings. Many companies also offer discounts for “bundling” your home and auto or other policies.  

  3. Leverage any available credit card perks and discounts. Many offer cash back and/or special discounts and deals to cardholders. Check out your credit card companies’ website to see if you qualify for any savings.  Always remember, that although these are great perks for many, only go this route if you’re committed to using credit responsibly.
  4. Tackle Your Debt. Paying down debt IS saving. When you lower your overall debt, you’ll be paying less in interest and fees.  

  5. Start a side hustle if you can. From food delivery to taking surveys, tutoring, renting out your unused garage space, or completing random tasks for others...there are tons of creative ways to monetize your skills if you have the time and ability to make it work for you and your current situation. Check out our list of 15 ways to earn extra money.   

Take a step toward achieving the goals most important to you. Take the America Saves Pledge today and choose your savings goal. We’ll be your partner along the way and will send texts and emails full of tips and resources to keep you on track!  


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