How to Create Long Term Money Goals that Last

By Sarah Li Cain
April 26, 2017

Adulting can be hard. We want to live in the moment but at the same time, saving money, investing, and learning to live like a responsible grownup looms large in the background. But, let’s get one thing straight: You don’t have to deprive yourself while trying to achieve your long-term goals.

Take a look at some ways you can start saving and mapping out your long-term adulting goals today – while still enjoying your life.

Creating a Visual Representation of Your Long-term Goals

Yup, vision boards may be cheesy, but they actually work. In fact, a 2016 survey shows that more than 50% of those surveyed believe they’ll achieve their goal by visualizing it. Two-thirds of those surveyed said that they keep reminders of goals they’ve achieved to help motivate them.

Vision boards can indeed serve as a reminder to be responsible with your money, especially when you’re tempted to blow it all. In a nutshell, vision boards help you focus and think about your long-term goals. By looking at these creations often, you can’t help but think about how you’re going to make your dreams come true.

To create a vision board, all you have to do is find images or quotes that represent your goals. You can pour through magazines or even pull images off the Internet. Start arranging these snippets on a section of blank wall or a poster board. When you like the arrangement, you can glue the images in place. Lastly, place your vision board in a spot where you’ll look at it often.

Besides a vision board, you can also create other visual representations of your goals. For example, artist and founder of the website Map Your Progress wanted to keep motivated while paying off her credit card debt. So, she drew a simple drawing and colored parts of it for every $100 she paid off. This way she could visually see what she had accomplished and how far she had left to go.

Making Tiny Incremental Upgrades

Just because you want to make a big lifestyle upgrade, doesn’t mean you have to put it off. You can actually start to work toward large-scale goals by taking small steps today.

For example, let’s say you’ve dreamed of going on luxury vacations but don’t have the money right now. Instead of just dreaming about your future travels, you can start small and work up from there. As a suggestion, perhaps you can take a weekend staycation and book a luxury hotel room close to home. Or, maybe you can score a sweet Airbnb rental in a beautiful drive-to location. If you can stomach it, there are also plenty of deals for discounted vacations to beach destinations in exchange for two hours of your time sitting in a timeshare presentation.

You can even work towards a travel goal by making small contributions to something like a vacation jar. Every time you have some pocket change, you can put it in the jar and that money will begin to add up. If you want to tie your jar and goals into your vision board, put the same picture you used for your dream vacation on the jar.

Another example of taking small steps to reach big dreams: Making your way toward achieving home ownership instead of just daydreaming about it. To do this, perhaps you can start by renting a home that’s in your dream neighborhood. You can even create a vision board (or scour Pinterest for hours on end) to find pictures of the decorative items or furniture you want. You can then scout out the best deals for these items and start purchasing them.

Think of it this way: These smaller upgrades will help you scratch that itch for that super expensive exotic vacation or dream house.

Automate Your Savings Goals

Yes, you can automatically save money toward your future goals without even thinking about it. All you have to do is set up accounts and have specified amounts withdrawn automatically. For example, if you want to save $15,000 in the next 8 years for a downpayment on your dream house, you would need to save $156 a month toward this specific goal. You can have that amount automatically directed to your savings bank account. Like they say: Out of sight, out of mind.

Although most banks will help you set up separate savings accounts, there are banking options that specialize in helping you automatically save. Chime, for example, will help you save by rounding up every single purchase you make via your Chime debit or credit card. This rounded up amount is automatically deposited into your Chime Savings account.

Another way to save automatically is via your employer 401k plan. For example, you can give your employer permission to withdraw set amounts from your pay into your 401k. Employers sometimes match a percentage of your contributions, so that’s practically free money right there. Not only are you saving, but automating your finances this way helps you achieve your goals faster than you realize.

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