Grad Meets World Guest Post

Hi readers! Today we bring you a guest post by Amanda Abella from Grad Meets World. Amanda is 20something language instructor and freelance writer based out of Miami, Florida. As a self-described personal development junkie, she is fascinated by post-grad life and hopes to help other 20somethings achieve their goals. She blogs about her adventures and shares her knowledge over at Grad Meets World. Enjoy her post on financial savings goals!

3 Steps for Setting up a Financial Savings Goal

As a post-grad you may suddenly find yourself with a few surprises. You are now responsible for your own life, your income, and any bumps that may come along.

Take me for example, not even a year out of college and I have a day job, I’m trying to run a side business, and I have surprise expenses piling up.

Amidst the surprises, I have been able to save up enough money for two of my financial goals for 2011: open up a brokerage account and open up an IRA to start saving for retirement, both of which I did last week and it’s only March.

Now I have a couple of more expenses to plan for: two weddings that will be taking place in California later this year, for one of which I am a bridesmaid. I must admit that I started shopping around for plane tickets and ended up suffering from a severe case of sticker shock. Both tickets may cost me about $1000, and that’s not including the days which I will be staying.

However, instead of panicking and thinking, “Holy crap how am I going to afford two trips to California this year?!?!” I am taking the same proactive approach I did with my previous goals.

How to Set Up a Financial Goal and Nail It

1. Don’t panic. Ask yourself “What can I do to make extra money?”

There are lots of ways you can make some extra cash. I personally enjoy freelance writing; however there are several other money making projects you can take on as well. (For a great list read The Smart College Grad’s 5 Ways to Make Extra Money in Your 20s).

Whatever extra cash you make then gets split between your checking (hey we’ve got bills to pay) and your savings goal.

2. Set up a separate high interest savings account with your specific goal in mind.

“But Amanda, I already have a savings account with my current bank!”

I’m sure you do, but do you know what you are actually saving for or are you just automatically allocating random funds once a month? Better question, how often do you dip into your regular savings to buy something? Or even better, have you checked out your bank’s miserable interest rates lately?

I have several different savings accounts at online banks with specific goals in mind. For instance, when I was saving up for my IRA I opened up an account at Emigrant Direct and nicknamed it “Retirement” so I would know exactly what I was saving for.

Online banks usually earn you up to 5 times more interest than a brick and mortar bank which is reason enough to start putting your money elsewhere. But the real winner for me was the following: if I ever feel the urge to waste money on something I don’t really need, it would take at least three days for the online bank to transfer the money back to my checking. By that time my urge is gone and I actually saved my money.

There are several online banks out there and all it takes is a little bit of research to see which one is best for you. I personally favor ING Direct, Emigrant Direct, and FNBO Direct.

3. Split your check into percentages and pay yourself first.

I actually got this idea from one of my favorite personal finance books, The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed. The concept is simple: split every check you get into percentages and PAY YOURSELF FIRST.

For instance, 10% of every check I received, whether it was from my day job or freelancing, went into my savings account labeled Retirement. This ensures that you save some money every time you get paid.

By following these three easy steps you’ll be sure to reach your savings goal in no time!


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