Summer is just around the corner, and you have a long wish list of things to see and do. Whether you’ve got your eye on making home improvements or taking your kids on a vacation, you know you need to do some financial planning and saving to make some of your wishes come true. But where do you start? Here are three suggestions.

1. Identify your goals

“It's hard to make a plan and stick to it if the end result is not known,” says Jennifer Ryan, a financial advisor and mutual fund investment specialist at Servus. She suggests that you begin with a clear idea of what you’re saving for because no matter what it is, having a set target helps you stay focused. Vague ideas about saving for “something nice” someday won't get you there.

An illustration of a brand new bicycle in front of a smart phone with the screen showing a green piggy bank. An airplane flies to the top right of the phone with a dotted line connecting to the piggy bank.

“You wouldn’t follow a recipe if you didn’t know the ingredients and measurements,” Jennifer says. “It's pretty much the same with financial planning and saving. It helps to know how much you need to put a plan in place.” That means doing some research. Try to identify a better-than-ballpark amount you'll need to achieve your goal.

2. Decide where to save

Once you’ve identified your summer goal, you'll need a place to put your money. If you’ve got several summer goals, let's say a trip for yourself and your partner ($2,000-$5,000 each or a new e-Bike ($1,500 or more apiece), the best option is to create a simple savings account for each. 

“At Servus,” says Jennifer, “we can create these separate savings accounts and put names to them.” By naming each account, you associate it with its own unique goal, which gives you an emotional incentive to keep adding to it.

For more ambitious goals, like building an addition to your house or buying a new vehicle, you may want to consider other savings options, like guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) or tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs).

“If you're looking at saving for at least a year, we can set up a pay-yourself-first GIC to earn a bit more interest and still have the money set aside,” says Jennifer. “I recommend TFSAs if members have more than a year of saving planned and won't be using it.”

3. Make a budget

Managing money can be hard, especially when you're trying to set some aside on a regular basis. If crunching numbers isn’t your forte, Servus has created a budget planner to help you get started.

But not everyone is a financial wizard. Sometimes it’s far too easy to stray from the plan, become discouraged and eventually give up your summer dream. That's when it’s time to talk to a professional.

“Money is emotional, and it can be embarrassing,” says Jennifer. “But we're here to help you through all the stages in life and whatever else comes up down the road."

Creating and sticking to a budget help you keep your long-term goals within reach. When you see how your money is actually spent, it can sometimes come as an unpleasant shock. A professional can help you get organized to fully realize your dreams.

“No goal is too small or big," Jennifer says. "We want to help you put together a plan that will get you there.”

Give us a call at 1.877.378.8728 and talk to a Servus financial advisor today. And if you're already a member and have been inspired to start saving, don't forget that it's quick and easy in online banking.

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Originally posted on April 1, 2018.