by Scott Taylor
UF/IFAS Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
Many of us want to begin saving money, whether for emergencies, children’s college, retirement, or the like. But for some of us, we can’t get our mind to stay focused on how to get there.
That’s where the method of making the savings goal S M A R T can be an effective tool to help get the focus needed. I know what you’re thinking: saving money is a smart thing to do, so what are you talking about? While you are correct that saving money is a good idea, implementing a S M A R T strategy to reprogram our viewpoint on how to actually do the saving has been found to be very effective.
Since we all agree it’s smart to save money, we are going to use that word as our outline on how to do it. Here’s how S M A R T financial goal strategy works.
S – stands for Specific. Be specific about not only what you are saving for, but also how much you want to save. This gives your brain an exact target to focus on. Once you have the specific amount desired for saving, I like to go to the T of our S M A R T strategy.
T – stands for timeline. When do you want to have this amount saved? Why do I go to this one after I set how much I am wanting to save you ask? Well, it’s simple. We tend to procrastinate on doing things we really don’t want to do. Think back to studying in school? For most of us, we waited till the last minute because studying was not something we were all that excited about doing. Saving money is the same way. Our brain looks at saving money much like having to study for that big test, something we really do not want to do. By setting our timeline, we have “set the test date” and our brain knows it has to act. Another advantage of setting the specific amount and the timeline of when, we can calculate how much we need to save each month to get there.
M – stands for measure. Once we know how much and when, we can measure what we need to save each month to get there. If we are wanting to save $500, and we want to have it saved in 10 months, we can measure how much we need to save each month ($500/10 = $50 per month). Now that we have measured how much we need to save each month, we can look at our financial situation and see if that is really possible or realistic. Which brings us to the R.
R – stands for realistic. After measuring what we must do each month to achieve our savings goal, we can look at our financial situation and determine whether that amount to be saved is really something that is possible. Many times, even though we want to save that amount, it is too big an amount for our current situation. So, what do we do? Do we give up on the savings goal? No, we adapt.
A – stands for adapt or adjust. If the amount to be saved is not financially possible, don’t give up on the goal, just adapt it to fit your financial situation by adjusting the amount to be saved, or the timeline for saving. By adapting and making it realistic, your mind then starts to be motivated on the savings goal.
And once your mind feels the goal is realistic, you will begin to focus on the savings and not on the fact that you cannot spend that money each month.
For more money saving tips, or to talk about the other offerings UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County can do for you, please call Scott E. Taylor @ 352-754-4433, or email him at [email protected].
UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County is a free service that provides solutions for your life. Extension programs are open to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, or national origin.