7 Money Habits That’ll Help You Stop Stressing Your Savings
Saving money is something we all know we should be doing. But it can often be hard to start and sustain a savings habit, especially if you don’t know where to start or how to stay the course. And this can cause considerable unnecessary financial stress that stops you from getting started.
But there are things you can do to save money successfully and reduce your stress around saving and your finances in general. Most of our money success comes from building a good foundation and creating habits that will help us grow our wealth.
Let’s look at 7 money habits that’ll help you stop stressing about your savings.
Money Habit #1: Stay Organized
Getting and staying organized is one of the key financial habits that’ll help you stop stressing your savings. Not having a clear picture of your financial situation adds to money stress. Taking some time to get organized, and taking steps to stay that way, will go a long way to eliminating your stress.
To get organized, first gather all your important financial information in one place. Knowing how to access your accounts and where to find information when you need it can help keep you calm.
Next, identify all the money that flows into your account. This could be income you earn, income earned by a partner or family member you share expenses with, or any other sources of monthly income (child support payments, social assistance, investment returns, etc.). Knowing where your money comes from will help you understand your ability to save and meet your other financial obligations.
Then, look at where your money is going. This part can feel intimidating. But if you aren’t sure where your money is going, you won’t be able to find money to save, and your stress will continue. So, look at your last three to six months of spending. Make a list of all the recurring bills you have, how much each one is, and when they are due. Look at your other spending to find patterns.
Once you have a good sense of your spending, compare it to your income. If there isn’t any money left over, look to see what expenses you can trim or cut to help you reach your savings goals.
Money Habit #2: Make a Plan
When you want to stop stressing your savings and start seeing progress, it’s important to create some goals. Research shows that people who set goals are 10 times more likely to achieve them than those who don’t. But just having a goal doesn’t guarantee success. You’ll also need to create a plan to achieve it.
A plan to successfully achieve your savings goals has a few necessary components. First, write down your goal and your plan. The act of committing them to writing makes you 42% more likely to achieve them.
Second, be sure to create SMART goals. A SMART goal is one that’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.
To make your goal specific, get clear on why you’re saving money. The more specific you can get about your goal, the better your chances of success.
For your goal to be measurable, determine how much you’ll save and when. Having your savings on a schedule can take some of the guesswork out of the process.
An achievable goal is one that’s in line with your budget and personal goals. Because you’ve taken the time to get organized and you know how much you can save, you’ll know how to measure your progress.
A relevant goal is one that aligns with your values and life goals. This can help keep you focused on your goal when other options come up.
Having a timeframe for goal completion gives you a clear path forward.
When your goal includes these elements, you’ll be set up for success, and this will help you stop stressing about your savings.
Money Habit #3: Automate It
Once you’ve created a goal and mapped out a plan to reach it, you’ll want to be sure you are saving consistently. But when you’re constantly thinking about when to save or if you’ve saved yet this month, your financial stress can actually increase.
Instead, stop stressing and automate your savings. To do this, you can set up automatic deposits or transfers from your checking account to your savings account on a regular schedule that works for your financial situation.
Automating your savings takes a financial task off your plate. It can relieve your stress about saving money because you know it’s happening behind the scenes, and you don’t have to worry about it. It also allows you to save each pay period before you start spending, which is a good way to be sure you don’t spend the money you have budgeted for savings. Often, people will wait until the end of a pay period to “save what is left,” and this system usually creates more stress and less saving.
Money Habit #4: Check in Regularly
Even with your savings automated, regular check-ins with your savings and your overall spending plan will help you stop stressing your savings. This is because you will be able to see how things are going in real-time. It also lets you course correct if things get off track or your financial situation changes.
Make it easier to check in regularly by scheduling it at least once a month on your calendar. Having it on your calendar, instead of “doing it when you get a chance,” will help you show up consistently, which will lower your stress over time.
In these check-ins, look at your budget and your savings to be sure they are on track. If you find extra money in your budget, consider adding it to your savings.
It’s also helpful to look ahead at upcoming expenses. This can shift you from a reactive state with your money to a more proactive one. And knowing what’s coming will help reduce your financial stress.
Money Habit #5: Track Your Progress
Along with checking in regularly, another habit that can help you stop stressing your savings is tracking your progress. When you first start saving, or if the amounts you can set aside are small, it can feel like you will never reach your goal. Tracking your progress can help ease this anxiety and show you your progress in real-time.
There are many ways to track your progress. You could use an app, an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet, or you could even download a fun coloring tracker! The key is to do it consistently so you can see how you are doing on your goals.
Tracking your progress can also help keep you motivated if other spending opportunities come up. Seeing how close you are to your goal or how long you’re delaying reaching it can help you say no to spending that doesn’t fit your budget or your goals.
Money Habit #6: Factor in Fun
When you start saving, it might seem like a good idea to go all in on your goals. But this can lead to extreme budgeting with no room for any extras. While the push can be good to get you started, in the long run, it can leave you feeling burnt out and even more stressed about your savings.
Instead, remember to factor fun into your plan. Yes, saving is important, and you’ll likely have to give up some spending to reach your goal. But if you don’t allow yourself some grace and a little bit of fun along the way, you might create more stress and feelings of dissatisfaction with your savings.
Factoring fun into your budget doesn’t have to be huge or crazily expensive. But leaving room in the budget for small treats like a movie, ice cream, or coffee with a friend can help you stay motivated. This balance can help keep you saving.
Money Habit #7: Have a Plan for Unexpected Cash
Another money habit that’ll help you stop stressing your savings is to have a plan for unexpected cash. Whether the cash is a gift, an inheritance, or a bonus at work, getting money unexpectedly can change your budget. So, having a plan in place for this money before you receive it can ensure that those changes are aligned with your values and goals.
While it can seem logical to put it all towards savings goals, for some people, this can leave them less excited to save and can lead to overspending in other areas. Instead, set an amount or percentage of the unexpected payout that you will save and another amount or percentage that you can use to do something fun or buy something you’ve been wanting.
Typically, if you’re debt-free, saving 70 to 90% is a good strategy. The remaining 10 to 30% can be spent on something fun. If you have debt, you might want to dedicate ⅓ of your windfall to debt repayment, ⅓ to savings, and ⅓ to something fun.
Having this plan in place prior to receiving unexpected money can help you reach your financial goals sooner and eliminate your money stress.
Building Habits Starts with Small Steps
Saving money can feel overwhelming. But you can take small steps to build habits that will reduce your money stress. If you get organized and create a plan for your spending and saving, you’ll be able to see how saving can fit into your budget. Knowing where your money comes from and where you want it to go can reduce your stress level. Once you have a plan in place, automating your savings will ensure that no matter what happens, you’re setting aside money regularly to reach your goals.
Then, track your progress and check in regularly to stay on track and reduce your stress. As you work through your plan, don’t forget to factor in fun to help you stay motivated. And set up a plan for unexpected cash you might receive. This can help keep you moving on your goals. Following these seven habits will help you reach your savings goals and eliminate your savings stress along the way.