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I’m not a natural saver, but a simple strategy has helped me tuck away the money I need to live out my retirement dreams

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We often hear people say, “I’m a saver,” or “I live paycheck to paycheck.” We tend to treat these two different ways of dealing with money as a personality type. I wouldn’t describe myself as a natural saver even though I am successful at it and have managed to buy a home, car, and save for retirement. I have simply learned some saving hacks throughout life that make me capable of putting aside money even when I want to spend every penny I earn. 

I need these saving hacks to be successful at meeting life goals. The one trick/hack that I am using currently to save is to have a specific purpose or dream in mind and to spend time each month actively imagining the results of my tucking money away.

For example, if you are saving for a house, spend time each month researching real estate and imagining buying the property of your dreams. This technique has allowed my husband and me to save $24,000 of a $30,000 to $40,000 goal. 

We’re looking forward to retiring and getting out on the open road

In 2006, my husband and I bought a 17-foot RV and drove over 18,000 miles to 34 states. We spent six months on the road, and it was one of the most memorable and exciting periods of our 24-year relationship. We sold our condo, quit our jobs, and had no actual schedule. It was the type of freedom I imagine comes from retirement, only we knew we would eventually have to start the process of looking for a new home and new jobs. 

Since we are on the cusp between Gen X and baby boomers, our retirement has started to come into view in the past couple of years, and we have started talking and dreaming about what we want to do. Both of us are itching to hit the road again and see America anew. We want to revisit the states we already saw and tour the states we missed on our first trip.

We set up a ‘dream’ savings account to help us reach our goal

Unfortunately, we sold our perfect little RV over 10 years ago because we weren’t using it and wanted to save on the storage costs, which made financial sense at the time. So, we started researching used van-sized RVs and got quite the sticker shock. It is going to cost much more than we imagined to get back out on the open road.

Not long after looking into replacement RVs, we decided we would need to start a “dream” savings account to make our plan a reality. Having this specific goal/dream in mind has made saving not only easier, but more exciting as we grow closer and closer to our goal. 

We set aside $200 to $300 a month into this “dream” account, but that isn’t the whole story. We are successful at saving more than that because the money we have leftover at the end of the month after paying our bills, contributing to a 401(k), and paying for other necessities like groceries, we also add to the account. Also, if we miss a brunch or don’t go to a special event like a concert or boat tour, we add that money to our dream account, which during the pandemic grew faster than usual due to a reduction in entertainment spending, eating out, etc.

I thought I would resent creating another savings account because it would take money away from other things I enjoy. Still, the joy of looking forward to a shared dream we have and marking progress each month makes saving money something I want to do, not just what a financial advisor would recommend. Also, the more successful we are at it, the more fantastic our RV will be, meaning more luxury on the open road. 

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