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Visualize Your Savings Goals

Written by Nickel - 14 Comments

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to achieving major savings goals is maintaining your focus. The bigger the goal, the longer it typically takes to achieve it, and the easier it is to take your eye of the ball. One particularly effective trick for combating this possibility is to create a visual reminder of your savings goal.

Lessons from an eleven year old

I was recently reminded of how well this approach works when I discovered that our eleven year old was carrying around a tattered picture of an ASUS Eee PC netbook. Yep, that’s it (alongside his wallet) in the photo above. He’s been saving up for his own computer for quite awhile now, and he was concerned about blowing his hard-earned money on a less worthy item during a moment of weakness.

We’ve actually talked quite a bit with the kids about impulse purchases and how much they can set you back when you’re saving up for something big. In an attempt to avoid these sorts of problems, he decided to print out a picture of a computer like the one he wanted to buy and slip it into his wallet, thereby ensuring that he’d see it every time he was tempted to spend money.

And guess what? It worked. He saved like a madman with nary a setback and, as of last week, he’s the proud new owner of his very own netbook. So take it from an eleven year old… If you’re having trouble meeting your savings goals, create a visual reminder of whatever it is that you’re saving for and slip it into your wallet or purse.

Published on March 3rd, 2009
Modified on May 11th, 2009 - 14 Comments
Filed under: Frugality, Saving & Investing

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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14 Responses to “Visualize Your Savings Goals”

  1. 1
    DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad Says:

    Solid idea– Many years ago, I used to take my resume and write what I wanted on it in red pen and look at it weekly. I eventually added 90% of what I wanted. I didn’t add the foreign langauges, but everything else made it.

    Now I do two wish lists: one for needed items like tools and a beater pickup truck with a plow and one for debts to crush. I review these weekly to motivate me.

  2. 2
    the weakonomist Says:

    I followed the twitter drama with setup, was the first one eventually returned?

    This really shows that your 11 year old understands the value of a dollar. That’s the foundation for a life of smart money. Good job dad.

  3. 3
    Danny Says:

    I hope it doesn’t sound corny to say this, but I’m so proud of your son right now! (And jealous, too – I’ve been wanting an Eee, but haven’t been able to justify the purchase.)

  4. 4
    Juice Says:

    Way to go both Dad and son! What a fantastic reflection on the two of you. You must be very proud of your incredibly motivated son!

  5. 5
    Ian Says:

    What a great article and an even better lesson. Sometimes kids really do have the best ways to go about doing things. I am sure he will grow up to be a fine and responsible adult.

  6. 6
    SandwichArtist Says:

    I’m going to steal that resume idea. Thanks.

  7. 7
    Ray Says:

    I think many adults have impulse spending as well, but I doubt this would work with adults we always find ways to justify our spending.

  8. 8
    Grant Baldwin Says:

    Ah, there’s probably a lot we could learn from the simplicity of kids and their money!

    It may seem silly to see an 11 year-old do it, but never underestimate the power of a visual goal…

  9. 9
    william Says:

    inspirational, I was looking for a way to motivate my son to keep saving for more than a couple of weeks, he alway fall and expend all his savings in stuff as collectible cards or cheap toys…

    congratulations I will use the tip for myself :)

  10. 10
    Darwin's Finance Says:

    While he has a few years to go, one of the most formative experiences for me as a youngster was when my father showed me a graph of the power of compounding and how if you invested $2000 per year from age 25-35, you’d have more money in retirement than if you invested that same $2000 EVERY year from 35 to 65 (or something like that).

    I opened my first brokerage account at 18 and from that point on, I was a saver/investor. It allowed me to buy my first home right out of college!

  11. 11
    thomas Says:

    Great idea. Funny how an 11 year old gets it but adults don’t.

  12. 12
    financePHI Says:

    I bet even an 11 year old can see that it’s a waste of money to be putting money into companies like GM and AIG.

    Kudos to you – I hope we have more kids like him in the future to lead us out of this mess.

  13. 13
    Adam @ Checkbook Diaries Says:

    That is a great idea! This would tie right in with an article that I wrote yesterday about how to make saving money fun. A similar tip for someone with a debit or credit card would be to make a card sleeve (like the ones you get at the bank for your ATM card) out of plain paper and write the top 5 things that you are saving your money for on each of them. Then when you go to pull the card out of the sleeve, you are reminded of what you are trying to save your money for.

    Love the site (just added you to my blogroll), keep up the good work!

  14. 14
    Danielle Says:

    I wanted an Eee PC for a while… ended up getting a certified used Think Pad x60 instead :) That being said I think its a great first time laptop for an 11 year old!

    I like this idea in principle but was trying to figure out what I would carry around a picture of when my goals are building an emergency fund and paying off credit cared debt…

    I could carry around a picture of my house on fire… and a photo of the vacation we took after our honeymoon that we had to charge … LOL.

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