Saving up money as a young professional can be challenging. The more of your life is ahead of you, the more things you need to save up for.
Not only do you need enough money for tuition or student debt payments, you may also be hoping to buy a car, save up for a home down payment, and take your special someone out somewhere nice every once in a while.
These are a lot of financial demands and to top it all off, if you ever do manage to pile up enough money in your savings account for even half of a single goal, there's always the temptation to just skim a little bit on a pizza or a night out with your less work-focused friends. Soon enough, your nest egg is gone again and you're right back where you started.
So how do you save up money in this situation to move your life forward instead of running on a constant treadmill of work, school, and stress? The answer is very carefully.
Make a List
The first step to any sort of organized action is to organize your thoughts. What do you really want to save for? Don't just give the responsible answers, be honest with yourself.
Of course, there's tuition or student debts, the car, and the house, but there are probably a few other things you've been dying to buy if only you had the money.
Whether you've been craving an exercise machine so you can work out and study at the same time while at home or you desperately need a wardrobe update because your current gear is getting shabby, add these desires to the list.
Next to each item, add the amount you're saving up to before you make your next move.
Separate Savings Accounts
The biggest hurdle for most people when it comes to saving up enough money for anything is the temptation to spend the savings once it builds up.
You can't help but think about how much money it is when it's all piled up like that, but the pile is an illusion (and one that you can dissipate with a little intelligent banking).
Talk to the bank you already have an account with and ask to open several separate savings accounts: one for each big item or category on the list you just made, plus one extra. When the accounts are set up, start separating out the money you save for each thing.
By doing this, not only will it break up the big tempting pile, this technique will also help you see exactly how close you are to each one of your goals.
The most important part here is that you resolve to never take any money out of an account until it has reached your listed savings goal.
Save Every Month
Out of every single paycheck, designate the amount you're going to put aside for savings. This isn't for spending and shouldn't be considered as part of your discretionary income.
From there, decide how much of your money to save will go into each account. You can separate it up evenly or explore your personal priorities by which account you want to fill the fastest.
Finally, always put at least ten dollars a month into the 'extra' account. We'll talk about why in the next section.
The secret of the final savings account is your little reward for remembering to save every month.
This account is your real personal savings account and can be pulled from whenever you want a special treat like a delivery pizza, a neat toy you spotted in the mall, or to take your special someone out on a nice date.
This little gift to yourself will help you feel good about the money you put aside every month and will, therefore, encourage the good financial habits.
With diligence and the occasional little personal reward, you'll have saved up enough money for a nice little house or car down payment in no time.