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How to save for short-term goals

January 13, 2020 ​  3 minute read

New car, kitchen reno or family vacation on the horizon? Learn the best way to save for them.

Good financial health has a lot to do with anticipating what’s ahead and planning accordingly. Just as important as your long-term savings goals are the needs that you hope to fulfill in the next few years. Think new car, kitchen re-haul or tropical vacation. If you can plan ahead for them, you’re less likely to tap into other payment sources like a high interest credit card or an investment that’s meant for another need (an RRSP for example).

Here’s our 4-step strategy for saving for short-term needs:

  1. First, make saving for an emergency your top priority. The unexpected can happen today, tomorrow, next month or next year, so you’ll want that squared away first. Follow steps 2 – 4 to get started on an emergency fund.
  2. Now that you have a plan in place for emergency funds, start thinking about your short-term needs. It doesn’t matter if you have a few or many, because you can match each need with a no-fee savings account. Open an account online, one for each of your short-term goals.
  3. Arrange recurring transfers into your newly opened savings accounts and have them coincide with your payday. How much to sock away? This will be different for everyone, depending on your budget, expenses and other factors. The beauty of recurring transfers is that they can easily be adjusted through online banking. Bonus tip: tap into Personal Financial Management tools on online banking to see exactly how you’re spending your money. This will give you a better picture of what can be reduced or diverted.
  4. Name each of your savings accounts with a specific and compelling nickname. Research shows that cues like these can help keep savings, well, saved away. Instead of “vacation” think “Smith family Oregon Coast road trip 2021”. It’s super easy to change your account names through online banking.

Following these steps will not only get you to your short-term goals faster, it’ll also get you into the habit of saving. The beauty of habits is that they become second-nature, a custom that’s so deeply ingrained that you don’t give it much thought. In short, it makes something like saving easy, and that’s all you can hope for in today’s high-demand world.