Kimberly Palmer: How to balance competing savings goals

Saving money sounds straightforward - set cash aside for a future purpose - but in reality, people often face competing savings priorities.

NerdWallet

Sep 12, 2022, 1:34 PM

Updated 582 days ago

Share:

Kimberly Palmer: How to balance competing savings goals
Saving money sounds straightforward - set cash aside for a future purpose - but in reality, people often face competing savings priorities. We want it all: the travel, the house, the flush savings account. So how do we figure out which savings goals to put first, especially when we’re working toward so many things at once?
“You’re also still trying to live and have fun and not eat ramen noodles every day,” says Al-Nesha Jones, a certified public accountant and founder of ASE Group, a full-service accounting, tax and advisory firm in West Orange, New Jersey. Saving is further complicated by the fact that we’re currently facing economic uncertainty, higher prices on everyday items and a tumultuous stock market.
Figuring out your savings priorities isn’t easy, but these strategies can act as guideposts:

PUT YOUR EMERGENCY FUND FIRST

Consider how you felt the last time you couldn’t cover an emergency, Jones says. “If it gave you major anxiety, keep that feeling in mind when you prioritize.” In other words, create your emergency fund before everything else, because it’s so critical to financial security.
“Now more than ever, people are understanding the importance of a rainy day fund,” says Eric Maldonado, certified financial planner and owner of Aquila Wealth Advisors in San Luis Obispo, California. “It’s good fundamentals to have cash in case stuff starts costing more.”

NEXT, PRIORITIZE RETIREMENT

“Retirement is a long-term game and time is on your side, so even if you start with something very small, the more time you give yourself to work on it, the better off you’ll be,” Jones says. “If you keep pushing retirement off, we blink and now we’re scrambling.”
Thinking through the worst-case scenarios of not saving for different goals can help underscore the importance of funding retirement accounts. Noah Damsky, principal of Marina Wealth Advisors in Los Angeles, says you should save for the categories with the most severe consequences first - and retirement tops that list, since no one wants to be impoverished in old age. “Running through those scenarios helps crystallize what’s important,” Damsky says.

DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT IN THE NEAR TERM

This next category of savings priorities is complicated, because you must determine your near-term goals. They might include buying a home, traveling, moving to a new city, starting a family or something else entirely.
Dale L. Shafer II, CFP and founder of Life Moves Wealth Management in Scottsdale, Arizona, recently moved with his family to that area from Michigan, and his near-term goal is to save up to buy a home there. The pandemic spurred many people to make major lifestyle changes, he says, and as a result their near-term savings goals shifted.
“Sometimes we reset expectations and sometimes we achieve more than we thought,” he says. It’s important to check in on your savings progress at least several times a year so you can recalibrate when needed.
Jay Zigmont, CFP and founder of Childfree Wealth in Water Valley, Mississippi, works with clients who don’t have and aren’t planning on having children. He says many of them are focused on major life shifts, such as starting a business, moving overseas, traveling or taking a sabbatical from work.
“You might not be able to do everything at once, but you can do most things over time,” Zigmont says.

STAY ORGANIZED

To keep all of these goals straight, Maldonado suggests opening a separate savings account for each one and giving it a nickname, such as “Greece, $5,000” or “Lake cabin rental, $1,500.”
Online, high-yield savings accounts tend to offer higher returns than those at traditional banks, and you can set up automatic deductions from your checking account or paycheck. “It’s positive inertia that keeps the money going where you want it,” he adds.
You can always make changes later. “Just get in the habit of saving, and then you can go back and add other goals,” Jones says.

ENJOY LIFE ALONG THE WAY

As important as it is to save for all of those priorities, so is enjoying life today. Don’t wait until you have a fully funded retirement to put money toward items that bring you joy, Jones warns. That’s why she’s saving to buy a Tesla, which she hopes to purchase by the end of the year.
Maldonado and his wife contribute a set portion of money to a family fun account. “We drain it every quarter. It’s guilt-free spending for the family,” he says, and goes toward things like camping trips, museums or parties. With their savings safely stored in other accounts, it’s spending the whole family can feel good about.
By KIMBERLY PALMER of NerdWallet


More from News 12
1:41
Chief: Fire in Chester condo complex destroys several units

Chief: Fire in Chester condo complex destroys several units

2:02
Clouds, light rain Wednesday in the Hudson Valley

Clouds, light rain Wednesday in the Hudson Valley

0:27
Acting Supervisor Ed Lachterman declares victory in special election for Yorktown town supervisor

Acting Supervisor Ed Lachterman declares victory in special election for Yorktown town supervisor

0:21
'Blue Bloods' episode films in Yonkers

'Blue Bloods' episode films in Yonkers

0:28
Large black snake slithers around Congers Lake

Large black snake slithers around Congers Lake

0:21
Caught on camera: Bobcat spotted in residential area of Yonkers

Caught on camera: Bobcat spotted in residential area of Yonkers

0:30
Suffern High School helps crack John Doe case

Suffern High School helps crack John Doe case

1:59
Yonkers PD to use drones as first responders in new pilot program

Yonkers PD to use drones as first responders in new pilot program

2:02
Trump accuser E. Jean Carroll surrenders unlicensed firearm to Warwick police

Trump accuser E. Jean Carroll surrenders unlicensed firearm to Warwick police

1:37
 Independent report finds Poughkeepsie is eligible for rent stabilization

Independent report finds Poughkeepsie is eligible for rent stabilization

1:02
Rockland Community College library, student union closed 'until further notice' due to submerged transformer

Rockland Community College library, student union closed 'until further notice' due to submerged transformer

0:53
Republican lawmakers in Yonkers call for an end to New York's faith-based housing proposal

Republican lawmakers in Yonkers call for an end to New York's faith-based housing proposal

1:37
Elmsford PD: Man arrested on weapons charge during ‘extreme risk protection order’ raid

Elmsford PD: Man arrested on weapons charge during ‘extreme risk protection order’ raid

0:44
Ex-Mount Hope supervisor released from prison after guilty plea in child sex case and ‘judicial error’

Ex-Mount Hope supervisor released from prison after guilty plea in child sex case and ‘judicial error’

0:25
Cortlandt Manor tax preparer known as ‘The Magician’ accused of $100 million tax fraud

Cortlandt Manor tax preparer known as ‘The Magician’ accused of $100 million tax fraud

0:42
Porch collapse in Dutchess County leaves 1 injured

Porch collapse in Dutchess County leaves 1 injured

Vote 2024: Ask your questions for Congressional District 16 Democratic candidates

Vote 2024: Ask your questions for Congressional District 16 Democratic candidates

0:54
Mandatory seat belt law proposal for charter buses spurred after fatal Orange County crash

Mandatory seat belt law proposal for charter buses spurred after fatal Orange County crash

0:23
Vandalism at New Hampton park prompts search for culprit

Vandalism at New Hampton park prompts search for culprit

1:00
Headlines: Officer charged in illegal eavesdropping, drug dealer arrested again, missing woman

Headlines: Officer charged in illegal eavesdropping, drug dealer arrested again, missing woman