Five tips to keep your savings resolution
We’re a few days into the New Year, which means it’s time for a check in on your goal to save more for your children’s college. Perhaps you’re already realizing that it’s not enough just to make a resolution. To be successful, you also need to make a plan.
Psychologists offer some good advice to help you make your resolutions stick. We’ve taken these helpful hints and put a college savings spin on each one.
- Clearly define your goals. Don’t just say you want to “save for college” in 2020. Your goal should be concrete, achievable and measurable. It’s much better to say, “This year, I’ll purchase a 1-Year University Plan for my 1-year-old,” or “I’ll open a 529 Savings Plan for each of my children and set up monthly automatic deposits of $40 per child.” Reinforce your goal by writing it down.
- Be accountable. Tell your friends and family about your commitment to save for college. Whether you want their support or just don’t want to risk feeling ashamed when they check up on you, spreading the word will help you stay motivated. Depending on your goals, there may be times this year when you choose not to participate in something costly – forgoing that restaurant, concert, or expensive vacation – to fund your college savings. By telling people now about your resolution, you help level-set expectations and garner their support. And you never know: Now that they know, grandparents, aunts and uncles might even want to chip in.
- Put it on your schedule. This is where “save for college” really has “get more exercise” beat! No 6 a.m. workouts required here: Just spend a few minutes on the computer to set up automatic deposits into your savings plan. It may take a month or two to get acclimated to life without those funds, but soon you’ll discover you don’t even miss it. Which makes the next tip downright fun …
- Monitor your progress. Periodically re-evaluate to see if you’re on track to meet your goals, or whether you need to set a new and more ambitious savings target. Is it time to increase your Savings Plan contribution? Or start the next 1-Year Florida University Plan?
- Be okay with less, but not with nothing. Maybe you get started and you realize you have over-budgeted for savings. It’s okay to scale back a little bit; just don’t give up entirely. Depositing even a small amount on a regular basis will help you keep “saving for college” top of mind. When your circumstances improve, it will be that much easier for you to resume a more aggressive savings plan.
The three most popular New Year’s Resolutions each year are to eat healthier, get more exercise, and save more money.
And always remember: If you get completely derailed on your goal for some reason, there’s nothing magical about New Year’s Day. You can start a college savings plan any day of the year. In fact, the very best day to start saving is always today.