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Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and lose our focus on saving for future goals.
I remember buying an expensive outfit at a local mall during my college days. At the time, I was sure I could afford it.
But could I? Looking back, no, I couldn’t. I hadn’t saved for it, and I should have used that money for other things that were way more important—like, oh, I don’t know, paying my way in cash through those college years.
On impulse, I confused a want with a need and allowed myself to fork over the money for the clothes.
When we feel that temptation creeping over us and our hand slowly moves toward our wallet at the department store, we need to keep those savings goals in mind!
So what are the big things you might not think about on a daily basis that you need to be saving for now? Here are five I think almost all of us will have to face at one time or another. Time to dig your budgets out and start setting aside some money each month so that when the time comes, you’re ready!
1. A Rainy Day
Everyone has one: that unexpected emergency that comes up that you need to be ready for! So are you prepared? I guarantee it’s going to rain! In any 10-year period, 78% of Americans will have a major financial setback. In other words, an emergency will happen that will cost you a lot of money. If you think this doesn’t apply to you, grab an umbrella because rain is in the forecast.
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Related: How to Save $1,000 in One Month
Gifts for birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions usually aren’t surprises, but we still forget to save up for them. So set aside some cash each month. That way, when an occasion comes, you’ll have the money on hand to buy the perfect present debt-free. That’s a gift to both you and your recipient.
3. Your Next Car
You may be saying, “Chris, I already have a car.” While that’s great, I want to remind you that you’re driving a large piece of metal with an engine. In other words, it won’t last forever. When that car kicks the bucket, you’ll need to replace it with another one—without borrowing money. This will require a sinking fund, or a savings account that is set aside just for car replacement.
Related: Buying a Used Car? 5 Tips You Need to Know
We all know we should be saving for retirement throughout our careers, but many of us don’t. Crazy, I know! But it’s true. Ask yourself some questions: How much do you have saved right now? When do you hope to retire? What do you envision retirement looking like for you? My friend Chris Hogan says, “Retirement isn’t an age. It’s a number.” In other words, to retire at the age and to the lifestyle you envision, how much money will you need? How much should you be contributing monthly to get there? These are questions to answer now so that you can have a plan for the day you say goodbye to the office forever.
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The average college student is graduating with more than $30,000 in student loans! Please keep yourself and your kids far, far away from that tragic statistic. Once you’ve begun your retirement savings, tackle college. This will take some intentionality and some long-term savings in an ESA or 529 plan. It also might require you and your teen to put a few outfits back on the rack!
Related: 5 Ways to Pay For College Without Loans
Hopefully these areas will get you thinking beyond the here and now. Yes, saving and planning for the future is completely opposite our culture’s YOLO (You Only Live Once) mentality—the one that tells us we “owe it to ourselves.” Next time you’re tempted to buy that expensive outfit at the mall, first ask yourself if you’re already saving for the important things heading your way. It’ll put you in a better financial position for the long haul so that you can honor God with your life and your finances.
Chris Brown is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor, and dynamic speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide. Available on radio stations across the country, Chris Brown’s True Stewardship provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. You can follow Chris online at www.stewardship.com, on Twitter at @ChrisBrownOnAir, or at www.facebook.com/ChrisBrownOnAir.