By Marsha Barnes
Many of us have heard that we need to save money; however, often times we’re never told why or how to protect our sacred savings stash. Maybe you’re someone that does well in this area of your finances but find that there are moments (more than you’d like to admit) that push you towards randomly dipping into your savings account for things or experiences that aren’t necessarily what your savings were for. This could range from impromptu shopping sprees, concert tickets, or even saving someone else from a financial meltdown.
Developing and sticking to a savings plan is how you’re able to demonstrate just how dedicated, serious, and committed you are about turning your dreams, hopes, and desires into reality. As such, saving money allows you to implement a more secure financial future. Plan for things beyond what you need but also for your wants—it helps to reduce the cycle of borrowing and, if we’re all honest with ourselves, it helps us sleep a little better at night too.
Saving continues to help us move in the direction of financial stability, but how do we hold on to what we’ve worked so hard to establish? While there are numerous ways to accomplish this, I wanted to share four of the easier ways you can protect your savings stash.
1. Make your own money difficult to access
One of the most beneficial things that you can do to protect your savings from yourself is to avoid having easy access to your account(s). When your money’s easily accessible, it only takes a swipe or the push of a few buttons to get in and start transferring money to your other accounts or withdrawing money so you can spend it. It becomes increasingly challenging to reach any financial goals with these types of temptations all around you.
Try taking it up a notch by placing a distance between where you work or live and where your savings account is located. With no ATM or check card and the frustration of battling traffic, you’ll find that it’s less tempting to withdraw money from your savings stash. Making this process inconvenient can really help reduce the chances of you dipping into your savings.
2. Set financial boundaries
Sure, many of us would like to rescue our family members or friends from financial strain, relieve them of having to operate on a budget, or simply give monetary gifts on a monthly basis. This may be a strong desire for many people, but it’s often outside of their means and not their current reality. Carefully evaluate any requests for help to determine how and if you are able to assist. Use a few of these financial boundaries to keep your goals front and center:
- Avoid people who undermine your financial well-being.
- Take pride in your financial progress.
- Be honest with yourself about your financial situation. Are you financially stable and in a good position to help someone else?
- Remember, you don’t have to feel guilty for not letting someone borrow money. No one enjoys having their family or friends upset with them, but you can’t lend money you don’t have—and your family and friends should respect that.
- Protecting your stash will eventually allow you to support your friends and family as well as charities that are near and dear to your heart.
3. Visualize your aspirations
How many moments do you pause to consider what you truly want out of life? This could include where you want to live, what type of house or apartment you would like to live in and on what side of town. What type of car would you like to drive (if any at all)? What would you like your workdays to look like? Do you desire a job that provides you with more flexibility and freedom? Full-time or part-time? Breaking each of these variables down increases the likelihood of you holding on to your savings. You can even take this a step further by considering long-term desires, such as retiring early or sending your kids to college.
Earmarking your savings for specific milestones in your life turns them into a life goal instead of a financial goal—which makes it sound just a bit more appealing. Plus, having a certain amount of money stashed in your savings account gives you a soothing level of freedom, confidence, and peace. While we can’t predict the future, we can still position ourselves towards our desired destiny. Trust the process of your ideal lifestyle by incorporating what you value most to why you are saving.
4. Reflect on the past
Have you always been in a position that allowed you to save money? Do you remember the state of your finances before you decided to take control? Reflecting on where you once were financially is a powerful way of reminding us just how grateful and careful we should be with our new found financial truths. Continue to ask yourself the following questions:
- What am I gaining from saving consistently?
- How has not saving in the past hindered me financially or professionally?
- What next steps should I take to master my financial future?
As you continue to develop your super savings skills, remember that its your current and future desires that matter most. Take account of how long you’ve been earning money and how hard you’ve worked to establish solid savings habits. Give yourself a round of applause for developing a tool that brings you closer to financial success.
Continue to make sure that you’re saving for what really matters, and the things or experiences that you value the most. What methods will you use to protect your savings stash?
This is a post in partnership with Marsha Barnes, of the Finance Bar. Green Dot has supported her with compensation for her financial expertise and blog contributions.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Green Dot Corporation.