It’s a new year, so it’s time for new beginnings. Another year has passed by and, maybe like me (but hopefully not!), your savings account suffered enough mini-crises during the past year that it appears the concept of savings is more of a myth than reality. So, let’s talk about starting over. Or, actually, let’s just talk about starting. Often, we work on the savings plan without ever starting to save. For the New Year, let’s start saving and work our way towards continuing to save.
Start. In this case, it is more important to just start saving. Instead of creating a plan, just start putting some money aside. Here’s the beauty of it: it doesn’t matter what you start with – $5, $3, or $1, per day, per week, or per paycheck – just start. If you don’t start, you will have a hard time getting to the next step. We often get caught up in how much money we need to start saving to meet our “plan.” The truth is, as long as you start, the savings “plan” will eventually take care of itself.
Accumulate. Be disciplined to accumulate savings, whether it is daily, weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly; and whether you put your savings in an account, cookie jar, or mattress. The important element is to accumulate your savings until you have enough to do something with it. Sometimes, it’s tough to come up with whatever your local bank’s minimum is to start a savings account. But through discipline, you will eventually accumulate enough to meet that minimum requirement.
Plan. I know this seems backwards, to start and then plan, but if you are starting from scratch, having a plan really doesn’t matter. This falls under the “Ready, Fire, Aim” philosophy of saving instead of the familiar & traditional “Ready, Aim, Fire” approach. Instead, just plan to save. I know this goes against the popular philosophy of having a plan in place, or having a vision of the savings number in your head. However, as good as planning is for those who have significant savings, it may be a hindrance or challenge for those just starting out. A plan for saving when starting at zero may be daunting. Instead, start saving, and when you have an amount that is manageable, then you can put a plan in place.
Take Action. It’s that simple: take action. Take action to start; take action to accumulate; take action to plan. We often stand in action paralysis when it comes to saving because it does not provide instant gratification or immediate tangible rewards. If you take action to start saving, you will be moving towards your goal; if you take action to accumulate savings, you’ll be working towards your goal; and, if you take action to plan, you will move towards achieving your goal.
Continue. I just heard an interview describing the concept of consistency. We all have a tendency to start with a flurry of activity, but fade fast from our intentions, and do not continue towards our goals. Equate continuing with consistency; if you are consistent about taking action to save, you will continue to build your savings.
A new year gives us the opportunity to start anew. Savings plans have a tendency to be just that – plans. But a savings start orients the vision/perspective towards action & movement. Start saving, and move forward to a plan for that savings as it accumulates. Next year, when you look back on 2012, you will see that you turned the myth of savings into a reality. Achieving savings goals has its challenges, but it all begins with a start.