Keys to spending less & living well: cherish your long-term goals


Over the next several weeks, I’ll be talking about five fundamental elements of saving money and enjoying a fulfilling life. These steps have worked wonders in my life, and I know they can for you too!

Number one is:

Cherish Your Long-Term Goals

Bend your budget to your values, not your values to your budget.

For example, when my husband and I were just starting out and I got a part-time job teaching English, we decided that we would not depend on my earnings — at all. Every penny would go into savings. We would just make it work. Why?

We wanted to have children soon, and I wanted the freedom to stay home with them if I wanted. To avoid developing a lifestyle that was dependent on a double income, we immediately whisked my salary away into savings.

Not only did we gain freedom, but we also started building a nest egg that helped us pursue other dreams, like moving from his native Italy to the U.S. (It should be the other way around, I know!) and my husband going back to school so he could change careers (from public health to psychiatry).

What are you saving for? Here are some common goals:

  • buying a house
  • retirement
  • sending children to college
  • amassing an emergency fund
  • taking a sabbatical or dream trip

As blogger Frugal Babe notes in a guest post she wrote for me this summer, “Never sacrifice what you want most for what you want right now.”

Tips for keeping your goals in the forefront:

  • Change all your computer passwords to something about your goal, such as “houseinthecountry” or “$10,000by2012”
  • Display images of your goal on your desktop, your car, your fridge (but don’t keep your passwords in view on your desktop)
  • Cheer yourself on with visual displays of your progress, such as coloring in a graph of your savings
  • Define concrete milestones with due dates and track your progress, suggest Buttoned Up’s Sarah and Alicia in their really helpful new book, Pretty Neat: Get Organized and Let Go of Perfection.
  • Remove temptation and set limits by arranging automatic bank transfers from checking to savings every month

Next key: Tracking your spending.

What do you do to keep faraway goals upfront every day?

By Amy Suardi of and Buttoned Up’s Savings Expert

Amy Suardi writes about saving money & making life better at Frugal Mama.