By Shira Boss
Zero Cost Kids
Does it seem like there will never be enough money to do something you really dream of doing?
Our biggest family goal is to get a bit of land deep in the Catskills and gradually build a little getaway cabin. Bob and I have had this dream for years and years – individually before we met, and together for almost a decade.
We talk about it, we look for the land, we sketch out the cabin, we plan what trees we want to plant. But have we saved money for it?
How NOT to Save for a Goal
Don’t make the mistake we did.
We first set up our savings account for our land and cabin in 2009. We labeled the account “Woodcock Pocket 2012” (we are big Toot and Puddle fans!). Three years seemed like a far way off, but we needed to save up.
Except we didn’t. Each month went by, there was never extra money, and we never contributed. Well no, we did contribute bits here and there – then the account got raided in this or that crisis when a bill needed to be covered.
As you can guess, the years passed and 2012 came – and went. Seeing our empty account was downright depressing.
No! Don’t let this happen to you! Let’s make a plan and make those dreams come true!
How to Fund Your Dream Goals
If your family budget is like ours, there might never be “extra” money to put aside for dream goals unless you make it a priority. So just do that, and dust off your hands.
Here are 5 steps to grow savings for a big goal, be that a special trip, a longed-for renovation, a house or anything at all that you fancy.
1. Set up a dedicated savings account
Label it with your goal. Link it to your checking account to make contributions easy. (We did this!)
2. Make a commitment to regular contributions
You and your spouse can each contribute a certain dollar amount, or a percentage of your earnings for each month, or any combo you come up with. Just get money into the account, every month.
No amount is too small – every bit helps, and it will grow. You can always contribute more as circumstances improve, but there’s no making up for lost time – make a commitment and start making that dream real!
(Oops, we failed to do this…and 6 years slipped by! Even if we had each chipped in $25 a month, we would have built up over $3,600 – that’s a lot of building materials!)
3. Make sure you have an emergency fund
You must also plan and save for “emergencies,” otherwise known as expenses you know will come up, you just don’t know exactly when, what or how much. Otherwise, your dream fund will be in danger of getting raided to pay “unexpected” bills. (That’s what happened to us!)
4. Don’t wait until you pay off all debt
Controversial? Probably. But in my mind, paying off debt is fairly unsexy. Important, but not super inspiring. Not fun. You must make a plan to pay off debt, but there’s no reason you can’t dedicate some funds to your dream goal at the same time.
You might look for ways to earn a little extra, sell some things, or nip and tuck the budget to come up with extra funds for the dream goal account. Your dreams are important! They deserve your payments!
5. Do not touch
Leave your dream fund alone, except to make deposits. Consider the money untouchable. Forget it is even there, except to watch how you are getting closer and closer to reaching your goal. The dream fund is for your dream goal, which you will eventually reach but only if the money is left untouched!
Pipe dreams – things you want to do but will never do because you have not put a plan in place – are just sad. But dreams with a plan and a savings account, those are fantastic! Literally, the account is the fuel for fantasy. Think about your dream goal, picture it, salivate over it, enjoy waiting for it – all while the money to fund it piles up, bit by bit….
Last year we finally got serious about our Woodcock Pocket account. We got a tax refund and put it in the account. The budget got really tight after that – wow we had a lot of uses for that money!
But we have committed. Finally we realize that we will never buy the land, we will never build the cabin, we will never have a getaway unless we save up and make it happen.
We’re under some time pressure – we want the boys to be able to enjoy the land, help build the cabin and a treehouse (and my ultimate fantasy, a tea house/writer’s cottage!), and get to know and appreciate a piece of nature all their own…before they’re adults! The account has been renamed Woodcock Pocket 2020.
Where there’s a will – and a plan – there’s a way. Join us and set up your own dream account today. Please share your goal in the comments, along with any other encouragement you can think of!
We can do this!