Setting goals for your savings can be one of the most effective ways to put a “face” to your money and motivate you to put funds away for something specific. For example:
- I will save $100 a month for 6 months so I can take a summer vacation to the mountains.
- I need to save $1,200 ASAP for the new computer I plan to buy.
- To have the retirement I want, I must save $228 every month for the next 40 years.
Goals are great, especially short-term goals which are my favorite. I try to break down any large goals I have into benchmarks I can readily achieve in 90 days or less. But what happens when I don’t?
If you’ve fallen shy of a savings goal, but you’re not too far off, there’s a good chance that you can still salvage things. Here are a few options:
- Revise your expectations of the goal. If you’re saving up for a 5-star hotel, maybe you’ll have to settle for a 4-star instead.
- Work harder at getting a deal. It might be that you set your original goal based on an estimate for something you wanted to buy or do. Are you sure you’re getting the best deal, and could you find one that meets what you’ve saved?
- Extend the deadline. Could you meet your goal given another month, 6 months, or a year? Can you delay whatever you were saving for to get the full goal amount?
Way Off the Mark
If you’re not even close to reaching your goal, something went wrong along the way. It could be that:
- You severely overestimated how much you could devote to your goal from your discretionary money.
- An emergency/disaster forced you to use money out of your goal account.
- You spent or used the money appropriated for your saving goal toward something else.
Whatever the culprit, if you’re too far off your goal, the options are limited:
- Abandon the goal completely. Hopefully, the goal was something worthwhile in the first place, so this should be a last resort.
- Use money from other goals for this goal. Priority-wise, if this goal is something that’s more important (or more urgent) than something else you’re saving for, it might make sense to cannibalize from another goal. But don’t mistake this as license to raid your retirement funds.
- Restart the goal. If you deadline is indefinite, you might consider re-starting the goal from scratch, but this time with the head start of what you already saved.
Have You Ever Missed?
My guess is nearly all of us have missed reaching a financial goal at one time or another. How did you deal with it? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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