Tips to Stay Motivated to Reach Your Savings Goals

Illustration of a piggy bank on top of a pile of bank notes representing saving money.

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Are you struggling to find the motivation to reach your savings goals? It can be difficult to remain on track when you're saving for the long-term. It's easy to lose focus and start spending money on the things you want in the present rather than the things you want in the future.

Here are a few ways to stay motivated to reach your savings goals, whether your goals will take months or years to complete.

Write Down Your "Why"

The best way to regain your motivation to save money is to go back to the original reason you wanted to save in the first place. 

For example, maybe you're saving for a downpayment on a house. This is a savings goal that can take quite a while, depending on how much you can set aside each month. You might start to feel disenchanted with the idea after a few months (or years) have passed. 

So revisit your reason for saving for a house. Maybe you're living with your parents and absolutely can't wait to get out on your own. Maybe you're holding off starting a family because the current place you live in doesn't have enough room for a baby. Or maybe you're looking to relocate and start over elsewhere. 

Whatever the reason may be, write it down and make sure you connect with it. You need a "why" that resonates with you. Saving "just because it's the right thing to do" doesn't help. It's not a strong enough motivator. 

Set Savings Milestones

Sometimes the reason we lose the motivation to save is that our goals seem too intimidating. Going back to the downpayment example, if you have to save $20,000 or $40,000 in five years, that might seem impossible to do. 

It's not impossible, though. Plenty of people have accomplished similar goals (or saved more than that for a home). Breaking your goal down and having smaller milestones to reach can help you stay motivated.

Instead of framing your goal at $20,000 in 5 years, break it down into monthly chunks. You need to save $333.33 per month to reach that goal (not considering interest earned). That sounds a lot less intimidating than $20,000, right?

You might decide to celebrate the progress you make with every $5,000 saved so that you have four slightly smaller milestones to reach, rather than the big $20,000. 

The point is, you don't want to be so scared by the goal that you want to avoid it. You want your goal to be manageable so you feel as though it's attainable.

Visualize Your Progress

Another tactic that might help is visualizing your progress. When months and years pass and you're still trucking along with your savings, you might lose sight of the progress you've made. Saving becomes stale. 

To counter that, create visuals that chart your progress so you're always reminded of how far you've come. This can help with the previous tip of celebrating small milestones, too.

There are ideas on how to visualize debt payoff, and saving is much the same. Pick whatever works for you!

You could decide to draw a little thermometer with increments of money and fill it in whenever you send money to your savings account. Or, build a "chain" of savings — for every $X of money saved, you can add a chain that represents that amount. You could also decide to save $X of money per day, and every time you save that amount, star the date on a physical calendar. You might be driven to keep that chain going. 

These visuals can help drive your progress forward, and they serve as a constant reminder of your goals. You can't lose too much motivation when you're faced with a visual reminder every day!

Re-Evaluate Your Goals

If you're not feeling as motivated as you once were, it might be a sign that you need to re-evaluate your goals. Perhaps something has changed in your life and you're just not feeling it anymore.

That's okay! Plenty of people change their minds about their goals, and it's an avenue worth exploring, especially if you can't nail down a compelling "why." 

So if you find that your goals don't excite you as much anymore, re-create a list of savings goals and re-prioritize. You might find that you need to switch your focus to something else, and that's fine. You can always take the savings you've already accrued and put it toward another goal.