In order to know how much of your paycheck you should deposit versus spend, it helps to have some financial goals. Goals can be broken into two categories: short-term or long-term. Short-term goals typically are goals you want to achieve within 3-12 months, like having money for a concert or for that new tablet. Long-term goals are something that may take more than a year to accomplish, like saving for a new car, college or retirement (we know, we know, too soon right? Not really, but that’s for another day.) To be successful reaching your goals, you will want to make sure they are SMART!
S - Specific: This is the what, where, when, and how. The more specific you can be the better.
M - Measurable: Determine how you can measure your progress. This is very easy to do with our money management tools in Online Banking and there are plenty or free apps that help you keep track of your financial goals.
A - Attainable: Good goals should be challenging, but not impossible. Don’t plan to save every single penny you earn and then get upset when you have to spend money. You’re a human, not a robot. Remember that and give yourself some breathing room when planning your budget.
R - Relevant: Your goal should be something that matters to you. Don’t save for things that are important to other people, save for you. Remember, you’re the boss of your money. You put in the time at your job, so it’s your choice how you spend your hard-earned “dough.”
T - Timely: Set a timeframe to accomplish your goal and to help keep you focused. Example: “I will set aside $20 from each paycheck starting on June 15th, so that I have $100 by August 1st to buy concert tickets when they go on sale.”
Once you have your goals mapped out and how much money you need to set aside to achieve them, you can create a plan for the rest. This plan is called a budget. A budget is essentially money in versus money out. Expenses may include money for goals, savings, gas money, food money, cell phone, entertainment, clothing, personal care items, charity, gifts, etc.
Keep in mind that the “money in” doesn’t have to come strictly from your job. It would include any money that you get from an allowance, tutoring, babysitting, gifts, etc. Once you have your new budget, it is important to track your expenses on a regular basis. This will help you to see where your money is going and any spending leaks that may exist. Remember, it’s important to adjust your budget and stay flexible. Check in regularly on your budget and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish with your own money.