1. Write down your financial goals
Don’t let immediate fun push long-term goals further away. “Jot down your financial goals for the next one, three and five years,” suggests Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP and founder of financial planning firm Workable Wealth. “Heading into the summer with your goals written down will help you to curb impulse spending on fruity cocktails and trips you didn’t budget for.”
Feeling like you don’t have a goal? “Reflect on your most pressing financial concern and then set a goal based on that,” advises Erin Lowry, author of Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping by and Get Your Financial Life Together. “Once you have the broader goal,” she adds, “break it down into smaller segments. That will help you actually take the steps you need to take today instead of feeling freaked out by the scale of your goal.”
Lowry speaks from personal experience. “I knew I wanted $10,000 saved by the time I graduated college,” Lowry explains. “That sounded like so much money, so I broke it down by year. That meant I needed to save $2,500 a year throughout college or even better, $208 a month.”
2. Follow your money
Simply paying attention to where your money goes can do a lot to change your financial life. Because when you’re more mindful and aware, you position yourself to make better decisions. You can use apps to track both your spending habits and your budgeting successes, alerting you when some aspect of your financial life needs attention or if you’re at risk of overspending.
3. Name your savings accounts
Creating a purpose-driven or motivating title for your savings account is one of Lowry’s favorite simple-but-powerful financial hacks. “You can change your bank account name from Account 3934101 to something like ‘Quitting My Job June 2019,’” she says. “Knowing exactly what that account is for makes it less likely that you'll skim a little off the top each time you have the desire to splurge this summer,” Lowry explains.
4. Auto-pilot really does help
You’ve probably heard this advice before, but putting your finances on auto-pilot really does help — especially if you want to spend less time paying bills and more time enjoying summer fun. Clear out your to-do list with auto bill pay, automated transfers to savings and automated contributions to retirement accounts. This can also reduce the potential for oversights such as forgetting to pay a bill by its due date and giving into the temptation to spend instead of save.
While you’re in your online accounts setting up those automated payments and transfers, toggle over to the statements view and set your preferences to paperless to reduce clutter. Less paperwork and it’s eco-friendly? That’s a total win.