Do you have big dreams shelved away because of a lack of funds? Are you waiting for that perfect someday when your finances are in order and you have some extra money to follow your passions?
Wake-up call! That perfect someday may never come. If you want to follow your heart, the time to start is now. The sooner you start funding your dreams, the sooner you’ll achieve them.
Of course, paying for the electric bill and groceries ranks higher than saving for a hot tub, which means saving for your dreams requires squeezing out extra cash wherever and whenever possible. Live your best life by trying these nearly painless ways of filling up your dream fund.
1. Take the 5th-week advantage
If you get paid on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, you’ve probably noticed that every three months a fifth week of the month pops up, which means an extra paycheck. Rather than spending the funds on unplanned purchases, stick the money right into your dream fund.
Sure, it will be a little tight covering living expense for that extra week, but with a little pre-planning, you’ll get through the month just fine. And if you do have some issues, such as needing gas money for that last week, take out just enough to pay your transportation costs and save the rest.
2. Pocket freed up money
The next time you finish paying for a debt or are no longer required to cover certain expenses, reserve the savings—no matter how small—for your dream fund. For instance, if you’ve been taking a class on Thursday nights and paying $2.50 for parking but the class is now over, that amounts to $10 savings in a month. Accumulate enough of these freed up funds, and you’ll have a substantial amount of savings.
3. Save your birthday money
When you receive surprise money like a cash gift, a long-forgotten rebate check or even find a few dollars in your coat pocket or under the sofa cushions, immediately earmark the money for your dream fund. Even unexpected and unwanted gift cards can be converted to cash and deposited in savings. Sell unwanted gift cards on sites like giftcards.com or Giftcardgranny.com for cash.
4. Direct deposit your tax refund
With tax season nearly upon us, you may have a refund coming your way. The government offers direct deposit, which makes it possible to have the money put right into your dream fund. By having the cash sent directly to your savings, you won’t be in the least bit tempted to spend any of it.
5. Clip Coupons for Cash
Reward yourself for the work involved in finding and using coupons by earmarking the savings you earn for your dream fund. For instance, if you save $10 in coupons at the grocery store and another $2 at the drugstore, record the before coupon totals in your checkbook and consider the $12 savings as a deposit toward your dreams.
Sure, saving for your dream fund takes some time and planning, but reaching your destination is an awesome, well-worth-the-effort experience.
Julie Bawden-Davis is a widely published journalist specializing in personal finance and small business. She has written 10 books and more than 2,500 articles for a wide variety of national and international publications, including Parade.com, where she has a weekly column. In addition to contributing to SuperMoney, her work has appeared in publications such as American Express OPEN Forum, The Hartford and Forbes.