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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Saving for long-term goals

Thinking about buying a car or starting a college fund for the kids? Dreaming of owning a home or putting aside something for retirement?

Setting long-term financial goals is a good thing, but finding ways to save enough to turn them into a reality can be overwhelming.

The key is to have a plan, said Cindy Clampet, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension assistant state specialist, family resource management.

“Start with a clear goal. What exactly do you want to accomplish? How much will you need to save and what is your time frame?” she said. “Regardless of the goal, everyone in the family should be in agreement on the goal.”

With the goal established, move on to creating a strategy for achieving it. The strategy should include identifying what you and other family members are willing to give up in order to reach the goal.

“More than likely, you’re going to have to make some changes. Maybe it’s eating out one less time a week or going with a less expensive cable package,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important everyone in the family is in agreement on the goal and is willing to work toward it.”

As part of the strategy, include ways to save and make extra money. For instance, if the family was planning to clear out the basement and host a yard sale, now might be the right time.

Counting on windfalls as a source of added revenue is risky, except possibly at tax time.

“People generally spend tax windfalls well before they receive them, so the planning and decision making around those funds has to be firm. It’s a good idea to underestimate, rather than overestimate, how much you may get back,” Clampet said.

Set up a separate account to collect the set-aside funds instead of putting them in the everyday checking account, which will help avoid the temptation of spending the money on something other than the intended purpose.

Monitor the progress toward the goal to stay on the right track. Sharing the long-term aim with a friend or family member will help, too.

“People who are held accountable by reporting to someone else tend to be more successful than ones who either just decide to do it or even write down their goal,” Clampet said. “So, it could be to your advantage to let someone know you’re saving for something.”

Finally, setbacks are common, but families should not be discouraged if that happens. It is all part of the process.

“Part of setting a goal is monitoring to see what kinds of issues you have and making adjustments to your strategy so you continue to see progress,” Clampet said.

For more information on personal money management strategies, contact the nearest county Extension office.




Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
158 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: leilana.mckindra@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078