What if I told you it was possible to finance your family vacation simply by saving your spare change? It’s hard to believe, I know, but it can be done. Just ask Bill, a waste management professional who gives new meaning to the old saying, “Find a penny, pick it up”:

“The money that I find, people throw it away every single day. This coinage, I clean up, and that’s what I use to take my family and my grandkids to Southern California to the amusement parks, every single year for 34 years.”

Now, I am not suggesting that we look for spare change in random places, clean it, save it and use it as Bill did. I am suggesting, however, that we learn from Bill’s commitment, resourcefulness and discipline around saving for short-term goals. I am also suggesting that you take your spare change seriously – it adds up!

What are Short-Term Savings Goals?

I like to think of short-term goals as goals you can reach within five years. Some examples might include saving for:

  • Travel and family vacations (like Bill did)
  • A wedding
  • Personal goods
  • Home improvement projects
  • Emergencies
  • Debt repayment

No matter what your short-term savings goal is, you can always do something to work toward it.

4 Tips to Start Saving for Short-Term Goals

1. Keep a Record of Your Expenses

Spending money is very easy to do today, which is exactly why it’s imperative to track how much money you have going out on a daily basis. Recording and reviewing your purchases can be the first step to understanding where you can cut back and start saving. I like to look at my expenses, then ask myself questions like, “Do I really need to spend $12 on fast food every day?”

Many tools are available to help you keep track of your spending, including online and mobile banking, which gives you a good view of your transactions; Bank of Utah’s My Money Hub, an online feature that lets you monitor your accounts and visualize your budgets all in one place; and even basic bank ledgers. Take advantage of these resources!

2. Move Your Money Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Moving some of your money from a checking account into a savings account is an effective way to start saving for short-term goals. The idea here is, “If I don’t see it in my checking account, I won’t spend it on impulse purchases.”

Bank of Utah has several account options. Which one you open is for you to decide – I won’t go into the details of our accounts here; we can chat if you want to learn more – but really, the most important decision you can make is just to open one. Set aside a little here and a little there – you’ll be surprised at how much you can save!

3. Make it a Priority to Pay Yourself First

Getting lost in the routine of paying monthly bills is something that happens to all of us at some point. You get paid, you see the money in your checking account, you look to see what bills need to be paid, and then you pay them. Somehow in that established routine, you forget to pay the most important person – you!

The rule of thumb is to save at least 20% of your earnings. I understand this might not be the case for everyone. It can be easier sometimes and harder other times, depending on the situation. Regardless of the amount, budget for a percentage of your income to go into savings first, then pay your bills. In other words, pay yourself first!

4. Don't Be So Hard on Yourself

Getting down for not having the savings you want readily available is easy to do. You might even say, “I’m horrible at saving, so I’m just not even going to try.” The truth is, everything important or worth doing has always started with small basic steps. If you have started to save, and are feeling discouraged, don’t give up. You are doing better than you think. Continue doing these basic, simple things, and you will achieve your savings goals!

You Got This!

Again, you can do many things to start saving toward your short-term goals. I think Robert Kiyosaki, a bestselling personal finance author, summed it up well when he said:

“It’s not about how much you make, it’s about how much you keep.”

And remember, we are in this together. We got this!

Ledrich Oller is a former branch manager at Bank of Utah’s Provo Branch.