Chapter 06: How to Track Your Savings  

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Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

By this point in our savings series has led you through the fundamentals of saving and growing your funds. Now is the time to learn how you can keep track of the money that you are putting away for future use.

While the onslaught of numbers may seem daunting at first, the process you’ll follow to track savings isn’t all that complicated. With a few best practices, you can keep on top of your funds and work toward your goals.

To guide you through how to track savings, read through the article and take away the tips and tools that work best for your circumstances. Keep reading or use the links below to get started.

Set Goals and Milestones 

Before you begin tracking your savings, you need to clearly outline your objectives for your own reference. This not only helps you start setting and achieving goals, but also enables you to track spending and savings in real time.

You can divide your goals across a number of segments and durations. This makes the tracking process easier and helps you check in on your status at timely intervals. In turn, you can steer clear of redundant actions such as checking a yearly-objective account every other week. 

To get started, you can categorize your goals into the following sections:

Immediate Goals

Your immediate goals may include targets that you can achieve within a short period of time such as a few days or a month. Or, you might have to treat this as emergency spending. These objectives might also be recurring, which means that you may have to go through them every week or month. 

While many of these goals are about spending, some of them can also be about saving your funds or increasing your income. When you meet the required balance between these factors, you can be well on your way to financial wellness. 

Some of these goals may include: 

  • Keeping enough in your bank to make your rent payments on time.
  • Taking care of your mortgage payments.
  • Covering a sudden home maintenance need.
  • Having enough for basic necessities like utilities and groceries.
  • Taking care of your other living expenses.
  • Meeting emergency medical needs.
  • Learning how to budget properly.
  • Finding a high paying job.
  • Using a savings calculator to put away your money for future use—go back to Chapter 5 to learn how a savings goal calculator can help.

Mid-term Goals

Mid-term goals take a bit of time to accomplish—they’re not something you can do in a few days or weeks. You’ll likely need several months to a few years to accomplish these goals. This calls for you to be a bit patient while working towards them. But when you practice perseverance and planning, you can likely achieve them in the time that you want.

Several of these objectives relate to financial stability. This also requires you to take notes from your short-term goals such as building a budget tracker. When you combine these approaches, it becomes more convenient for you to navigate to your targets.

These goals may include but are not limited to the following:

Long-Term Goals 

These objectives are life-changing for a variety of individuals, while also holding the power to encourage others to strengthen their finances. No matter which category you fall under, you can look at these long-term goals as essential motivators and requirements of living a stable lifestyle. Long-term goals can help you build financial stability and create the future you want.

Some of the most common goals in this segment include:

  • Creating a college fund for your child.
  • Building a retirement savings account for yourself.
  • Paying off your long-term debt such as mortgage or student loans.
  • Buying investment properties and assets. 
  • Growing your business.

While establishing your financial objectives, you can also use the SMART goal approach to set measurable targets. This practice lets you figure out what else you might want from the immediate and distant future. 

This also assists you in determining any money-related goals that you may have overlooked earlier. As a result, you can feel confident that you are leaving no stones unturned in making your financial plans. 

Best Practices for Setting Milestones

Once you identify your goals, you have clear objectives to meet over time. Whether you are trying to save for your wedding or planning to pay off your debt, you may also want to establish some milestones that tell you how close you are to achieving your overarching goal.

This approach helps you stay on schedule for your goals and lets you track your savings and spending according to plan. This way, you can prevent pitfalls in your money management and financial performance.

Here are some best practices to help you achieve your objectives:

Set a time limit. Without a set timeline to achieve your goals, some objectives might be nothing more than a pipe dream. Make sure that you put a time limit to your savings plans. This could range from monthly schedules to yearly targets. 

Maintain scrupulous records. Keeping tabs on your account balances, bank statements, and spending receipts can all help you track your transactions. You can easily obtain these records online through your financial services providers. This way, you can see the state of your finances on paper.

Do timely check-ins. By doing weekly check-ins for immediate goals and monthly check-ins for mid- and long-term goals, you can be vigilant about your progress or lack thereof. This can be comforting but it can also help you pick up any slack that’s gone unnoticed before you get too far off track.

Reward yourself from time to time. Sticking to monthly contributions, payments, and savings can be challenging. In order to keep yourself motivated, avoid cutting your expenses to the point where you are deprived of simple comforts in life. Instead, look into rewarding yourself with simple purchases or experiences whenever you hit a new milestone on your savings chart.

Play catch-up whenever you need to do so. There might be times where you fall behind on your goals and feel like you have failed your efforts to improve your finances. But that is where you may need to remind yourself that no one is perfect. Whether you need to make a quick deposit or cut-off some spending, you might still get close to achieving your original goals. There are likely places you can easily cut your budget.

3 Tips to Help You Stay on Track

Here are three methods you can use to track savings goals:

Make Automatic Deposits Each Month

No matter the type of goals that you have, setting automatic deposits in your checking or primary account may help you stay on top of your objectives. This prevents payment delays, keeps missed transfers at bay, and allows you to fulfill your savings objectives without any hassle. 

Whether you are using a retirement savings calculator or a college fund building tool as a baseline, you may set these automatic deposits for nearly any amount. You can establish these transfers to go into your primary savings account and enjoy peace of mind for the rest of your defined savings timeline. 

As a result, you only have to make infrequent check-ins to track savings to see where you’re at, and don’t have to worry about rushing to the bank every now and then to execute transfers. This approach is highly convenient for achieving singular goals. But it is especially helpful when you are trying to accomplish multiple savings targets at once.

Be Diligent and Stay Up to Date 

While trying to become more financially responsible, one of the most important things that you can do is to be meticulous about your money management. This does not mean that you open your bank statement every chance you get. But it refers to the approach of staying up to date with your finances through regular efforts.

You may take the following steps to achieve this objective. 

  • Set up avenues to access your account statements online. 
  • Set reminders on your phone to do weekly or monthly checks. 
  • Assess the current state of your finances and compare it to your goals. 
  • Determine if you need to address any pitfalls to achieve your financial targets.
  • Check if another provider offers a better savings account rate—learn more about the types of savings accounts in Chapter 3.

Use an App Tracker  

Even when your bank or credit union has online options for you to check your accounts, it can be daunting to remember every single goal that you have in mind. That is where using a spending tracker app like MInt can help. 

Regardless of whether you are saving money through your checking account or using envelope budgeting to manage your cash, these specialized apps can outline your financial targets at a single glance. This saves you from making unnecessary purchases, while also reminding you to put your money towards savings whenever possible. 

These trackers are also great for keeping yourself motivated to stick to your savings plan. By showing milestones, highlighting progress, and delivering updates on your savings objectives, these solutions might become your personal guide in the quest to become more financially responsible. 

Wrapping Up 

After learning how to start saving money, keeping track of your progress is essential. By being mindful about your efforts, achievements, and shortcomings, you can stay on track and hit your financial targets along the way. 

This concludes our savings series. You’re ready to start saving and working toward your short-, mid-, and long-term goals. If you need to review any of the previous topics, you can always go back to refresh your memory at any time. Our savings guide is here to help you along the way to reaching your savings goals.Sources: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

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