How to create savings goals and actually reach them

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Saving to buy big-ticket items outright without relying on a credit card or a personal loan is the ultimate aim when buying expensive, one-off items that you can't fund out of your normal cashflow. However, financial pressures like; rent, mortgage repayments, and other household bills, mean that saving for big-ticket items is always a challenge.

Creating a savings goal means you'll be more likely to reach your target faster.

So follow these tips to make and keep savings goals to pay for life's big-ticket purchases without getting into problematic debt.

What are the big-ticket items?

This depends on what stage of life you are at. A big-ticket item for some may not be for others. For instance, a student might set a goal to buy a new washing machine. A purchase which to a seasoned homeowner wouldn't be a 'big-ticket' item - but perhaps a new car would be.

Set your goal

First work out what you need to buy to achieve what you need and how much it's going to cost. Then look at when you need to have it by. This will let you know how much you'll need to put away each month to reach your goal and whether it's a reasonable goal or not.

Once you've worked this out you may need to change your goal depending on whether you can afford it.

Budgeting

Budgeting is the key to success. You need to know how much your essential outgoings are each month to make sure you can put enough away each month to reach your goal.

Record all spending for one month, including all cash spent, direct debits, and credit/debit card spending. Work out what is essential, how much is 'extra' and what is left over.

Decide how much you can cut from 'extra' spending and add this to what is left over to work out what you can realistically put towards saving each month.

You can use an app like Chip that analyses your spending and automatically stashes away what you can afford.

To automate things why not set up a direct debit each month to go into a savings account? This way you won't be tempted to spend it and you'll easily be able to see your amount grow, this can help to keep up motivation.

Using credit

If you need to buy before you have saved the whole amount, a credit card can help depending on your credit score and financial situation. You can check your credit score for free using services like those on Experian, Equifax or Credit Karma.

A long-term 0% purchase credit card can give up to 32 months to repay without incurring interest. Even if you don't qualify for that long, you might qualify for a card that offers 12 months. Be sure that you have a plan on how to manage the debt at the end of the interest-free period if you have not repaid it already.

Have a think about your credit card needs and do some research to find the one that's right for you, check MoneySavingExpert.co.uk to compare different deals. Whatever credit card you use, if you repay the balance in full each month then you won't pay any interest.

If you go down this route it could be a good idea to follow the savings plan above but in reverse. Your goal is to pay off the total balance left on your credit card each month. You can automate it by setting up the direct debit payment to go straight to paying off the card.

Find a bargain

Bargain hunters can unearth great deals looking for second-hand big-ticket items on eBay or other selling or deals sites like Groupon. You could buy 'nearly-new' through factory-seconds, in the sales or at end of season. If you buy a new car just before new registration plates are released you could get a cheaper price.

As life progresses, we occasionally need to buy big-ticket items. By following these tips it's simple to plan and save to reach your goal.

Find out more about savings here.


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