How to start (and stick to) your savings plan

Let’s be real, saving money is hard. Especially when patio season is calling your name and there is an email sitting in your inbox from Kate Spade promising 15 percent off your next purchase.

However, starting (and sticking to) a savings plan will provide you with a foundation for the purchases you really want later down the line. Whether you are saving for a down payment on the new Tesla, buy a house or go on your dream vacation, you have to start somewhere.

Unfortunately, many young adults take on an attitude of, “I’ll start saving when….” This quickly becomes a slippery slope as people continue to fill in the end of the statement. “I’ll start saving when I get a steady job.” “I’ll start saving when I get a raise.” “I’ll start saving after I buy these brand new Tori Burch shoes that I just have to have (true story).”

If you continue to make excuses when it comes to starting a savings account, you will never get moving. So, sit down, think about your future goals and let’s get this show on the road.

Four surefire tips to start (and stick to) a savings plan

1. Open multiple savings account

I know, this sounds a little backwards. You might be thinking, “Leah, if I’m trying to save money, why would I open multiple accounts?”

The answer is simple. Having multiple accounts for different purposes and goals is a good way to spread out your assets. Chances are, you have more than one financial goal at any given point. If you spread your savings out, you will have a better idea of what progress you have made for each goal.

2. Contribute regularly

The best plan for any savings account is to contribute regularly. If you are the forgetful type, like Yours Truly, then setting up an automatic direct deposit will keep you on track to achieve your financial goals. Many employers will also allow you to divide your paycheck between a savings and checking account, making the automatic process even easier for you.

3. Make it a habit

Your life is essentially a collection of habits. You wake up in the morning, you brush your teeth, you get dressed, you eat breakfast, you go to work. All of this is learned behavior that has been established over time. Think about saving money in the same way.

Forming a habit takes place throughout a process called The Three R’s of Habit Change:

  • Reminder – a trigger that initiates behavior (getting your paycheck)
  • Routine – the behavior itself; the action you take (transferring a portion of that paycheck to savings)
  • Reward – the benefit you gain from completing the behavior (watching your account build value over time and finally buying your dream house or booking that flight to India)

There is no scientifically proven magic number that explains how long it takes for something to become a habit (some say 21 days, others say 3 months). The point is not to focus on how long you need to save but rather the reward you will get at the end.

4. Understand that sometimes life happens

One day you’re singing on your way to work and the next day you’re cursing your luck trying to break into your own car to rescue your forgotten keys…not my most glorious moment.

But the reality is that life is messy and has a tendency of throwing you curve balls. Financial emergencies will inevitably arise and having a monetary cushion can help cover those unexpected expenses. Getting caught up in the little things will only discourage you from achieving your real goals. Take the good with the bad and stay focused – even if you got knocked back every now and then.

Above all else, developing an attitude of saving is the number one way you are going to reach your financial goals. I am not telling you to be stingy or cheap

that will be missed if you do not start today. Change that mentality from “I’ll start saving when” to “I’ll start saving now.”