Saving money ranks highly among New Year’s resolutions, and for good reason. It’s important to have money in a savings account for emergencies and unplanned bills. It’s also important to save for longer-term goals, like buying a home or retirement.
If you’re hoping to save more money in 2022, the last thing you want to do is set a goal for yourself that’s unrealistic. If you do, you’ll be setting yourself up to fail. Here’s how to establish a reasonable savings goal in the new year that you can actually achieve.
Step 1: Assess your current savings
If you already have a fully loaded emergency fund and you’re doing well with funding your IRA or 401(k), then you may not need to save as much money as someone with little emergency savings and no retirement savings at all. Take a look at your savings and see where things stand. That will help you determine how much sacrifice may be necessary to reach your goals.
Step 2: Set up a budget based on your expected income
Mapping out your ongoing expenses will help you see how much money you can reasonably expect to save on a monthly basis based on your current spending. Make a list of your various bills and see what they amount to. Then, compare that number to what your anticipated paycheck will look like in 2022 (keeping in mind that a raise might take effect in January).
If your expenses currently total $3,000 a month and you have a $3,300 monthly paycheck to look forward to, that means you could end up saving $3,600 in 2022. And that’s without having to make any lifestyle changes.
Learn more: The Complete Guide to Budgeting Methods
Step 3: See what expenses you’re able to trim
Your budget may reflect your living costs today. But if you don’t like what your savings potential looks like without cutting expenses, then you may need to make changes.
That’s why step 1 above is so important. If your savings need serious work, it may be time to make some sacrifices to ramp up (whereas if you’re doing okay savings-wise, you may not have to push yourself to give up as many things). You’ll need to go back through your budget and see what bills you can cut, whether it’s a leisure activity or your monthly cable fees.
Step 4: See how a side hustle might help
Even with cutting expenses, you may want to aim for a higher savings target than what your paycheck allows for. You can do that by getting yourself a side hustle.
Now, it may be tricky to estimate your side hustle earnings before starting that gig. But if you know most businesses in your area pay $12 an hour for weekend shifts and you’re willing to work three weekends a month, you can get a rough estimate of your extra income, add it to your existing paycheck, and see what savings potential you’re left with.
You can also talk to people who do different side hustles and see what their income looks like. For example, if you have a friend who drives for a ride-hailing service four nights a week, you can inquire about their average weekly payday.
Tying it all together
Now, getting back to our example, you may find that if you make no lifestyle changes, you have the potential to save $300 a month in 2022, or $3,600 for the year. If you cut back on expenses, you might boost that total to $500 a month, or $6,000 for the year. And if you get a side hustle and boost your take-home pay by $500 a month, you could potentially end up saving $1,000 a month, or $12,000 by the time 2022 comes to an end. Any of those totals could be what your savings goal looks like for the year, depending on your specific circumstances.
It’s all about being realistic
Many people set lofty savings goals and fail because they’re just not realistic. A better bet? Set a target you can actually reach in a reasonable fashion. That way, you’re more likely to keep at it and close out the year successfully.