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Think it’s impossible to save money while paying off bills and handling unexpected expenses? Miami-based money expert Victoria Lowell begs to differ. As the founder of Empowered Worth, Lowell helps women become financially independent, one dollar at a time. She even published a book about saving money and investing, in which she offers insider knowledge on mastering your finances and creating a better future in a flash. Here are her top tips.

1. Get as specific as possible with how much you want to save—and why

“Try to be as specific as possible when goal-setting. Look at what you spent last year and decide on the total amount you want to save this year. Visualize yourself on January 1, 2021. What are you using these funds for? That will determine what the savings amount should be. Let’s say you are planning to use your savings for a much-needed vacation. Plan it out as much as possible and determine what the trip will cost you. The same is true if you are saving for an emergency fund, or with debt reduction in mnd. Determine what exactly the goal is and tie it to a specific dollar amount.”

2. Set savings milestones for yourself

“Now that you’ve set your goals, I suggest you break down the checkpoints. Why? To ensure you are on target. Imagine you’re planning to save $2,000 for a cruise. When divided monthly, you would need to save roughly $167 a month, $500 quarterly or $1,000 every six months. These are the measures you want to be hitting at these milestones. I also suggest you open a designated account for these savings. Set it up as a direct deposit and forget about it until your check-ins.”

3. Be brutally honest with yourself

“I think it’s transcendent to remind yourself to dream big and imagine the incredible life you are worthy of living. Yet, when it comes to financial goals and savings, I remind clients to keep it real and attainable. If you are making minimum wage and struggling to get by, saving $2,000 may be incredibly hard to do. Be realistic. That is why looking at the previous year’s spending and budget is important. We don’t want you to become discouraged—that can lead to impulse withdrawals from your savings account.” 

4. Commit to a deadline

“Financial goals need to be time sensitive. At least once a year, assess your budget,” Lowell says, adding that you should set your savings goals for one year at a time. Any longer than that and your financial situation is likely to change, altering how much you can save—which could be a good thing (hello, promotion!) or a bad thing (the rent is being raised by how much next year?!).

5. Think of your budget as a roadmap to achieving your goals

“You can set a thousand goals, but if you have no idea how to get there, they might as well be wishes. A budget will allow you to see how much you can realistically save by determining how much you are spending and assessing where adjustments can be made. It allows you to see how much income is coming into your wallet and to figure out ways to increase your earnings.” So yes, as annoying as a budget can be to do, it’s totally worth it.

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