by Matthew Perry
(last updated February 21, 2009)
So you really, really want a new car. Your old one is looking pretty grungy, from it's stained and smelling seats to the bright purple paint job. The only problem is that you don't have any money. Short of robbing a bank or buying on credit, you only have a few options. The best thing for you to do would be to start saving your money so that you can buy your car, or whatever, someday. You'll need to plan your money carefully, which will probably mean budgeting.
Your budget, dear saver, is for a rather pointed objective: you want that car. You're not necessarily interested in a financial overhaul, but a little focus will sure help you to get what you want. It may help to put your money in a separate place. When I was young, my father played the role of banker for me when I wanted to save up for a new video game. He set up different envelopes for my money so that I would only have access to certain portions of it for certain purposes. If I may suggest it, it would probably help you to do the same.
My situation really hasn't changed much. I now run my own finances and work with substantially larger paychecks, but I still use a bank and maintain separate places to store my money. This helps me. If a paper budget is good enough for you, go for it; I don't have the self restraint or the foresight to keep all my money in the same account when it's intended for different purposes.
Depending on how long-term your goal is, you may want to consider alternative methods of storing your money, some of which may be more regarding than others in the long haul. The stock market, bonds, certificates of deposit, and other forms of investment all offer advantages and disadvantages depending on the amount of money you want to save and for how long you want to keep it untouchable.
However you demarcate your money, you'll have a hard time reaching your goal unless you continually add to it. This is another way that budgeting can be helpful, because it lets you set out in advance where your money will be disseminated. For instance, I have a program now with my employer that automatically puts a hundred dollars into my savings account every time I get paid; that way, I am continually saving for my own goals, which at the moment include Laser eye surgery and a good laptop.
If you customize these steps to your personal situation, you should have no problem saving up your money for that special something.
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