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Using Smart Plans to Achieve Saving Goals

Published September 4, 2019 by Benjie Sambas

One of the most common struggle for people is to manage and increase their savings, be it for emergencies or towards a goal. However, there are some who find it easy and had already built their funds, bought things from what they have saved, or have already achieved their targets. What’s the best approach so you could be one of those who can commit to and achieve their saving goals?

The problem isn’t debt

For those in debt, one may think that paying them is the main reason why there’s no extra money to save, but it’s the wrong idea. Apparently, most of working Americans, even those who have debts, are focusing too much on a single idea – paying for too many expenses. Those who are paying their debts off don’t put much thought into budgeting for debt payments, but rather spend most of their income on expenditure.

Why do people don’t increase their savings?

Meanwhile, aside from spending on overheads, most 8-to-5 people also say that their jobs aren’t good enough, and may be waiting for better-paying ones before starting to save. There are also those who said they’re satisfied with their current rate of savings, while others think setting aside a maximum of 10% off their income is enough.

How much do people save from their income?

The survey also touched on generational divide between those who save more than ten percent of their earnings against those who do not. Senior people such as those 55 and above are more likely to save more than a tenth of their income. Meanwhile, the younger generations – especially millennials – are more likely to save less or not save at all.

Outlook matters

Although all households have daily expenses, why can some manage it better than others? Based on the outcome of the survey, how you view your finances may be the key.

Most of the older generation are already familiar with finance-related hardships. They have adjusted their expenses and savings behavior to reflect how they manage their cash flow. A study detailed why some people manage their savings better. Supposedly, having specific targets and goals – in this case, creating their saving goals based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – is important to achieve targets. A deep connection with these specific goals is also a factor. For example, older people tend to save more when it comes to finances about security and for providing the basic needs of their family.

Using SMART goals in saving

Since specific goals are needed to better manage finances and savings, you can use different approaches to achieve targets. One of the most common goal-setting methods you can apply to financial targets is the SMART system.

In this method, you give structure to your goals and targets to track them better and measure your progress so you can do adjustments if needed.

 Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Timely
These criteria simplify the targets into achievable sections to manage them better and give higher chances of achieving the goals.

Specific

The more specific the targets are, the higher the chances they’ll be efficiently achieved. In saving, it is best to list what you are saving for, rather than just thinking of a vague idea. For example, rather than making a goal of “saving for emergencies,” list the answers to some pointed questions and get a clearer image of what the goal is. This is where the 5WH idea is most useful.

 What do I want to accomplish? Why do I want to achieve it? Where will I be before and after completing it? What are the conditions and limits to achieving it? How do I achieve this goal?

Measurable

Often, vague ideas are lofty ideas. Establish concrete details for targets. Refine your lists by breaking them into clear-cut, manageable segments and give the needed boost in achieving your saving goals.

Ambiguous GoalSMART Goal
I really need to save money for emergencies.I will set aside at least 5% of my income, and also cut back smoking to just half-pack a day, so that extra cash will go to my “being healthy” savings.

Attainable

Aside from being lofty, vague targets also tend to be next to impossible to achieve. More often, these are products of wishful thinking. Success in finance goals means that all targets are achievable. However, wishes can also become reality if you apply smart planning; the trick is to know attainable alternatives to what you wanted to accomplish.

Ambiguous GoalsSMART Goals
I’ll go on a vacation as soon as possible.I’ll start my vacation goals by saving up for a Caribbean cruise in a year’s time.
I want to travel all around the world.I need to save at least \$500 per month for 3 years and start backpacking in Europe.

Relevant

Having deep connection with what you want to achieve is also important, as it answers how specific you want to be in setting up saving goals. Feeling strongly about clear-cut, worthwhile objectives also gives the proper motivation you need in achieving these goals.

Ambiguous GoalSMART Goal
I need to set up my emergency funds.I’ll need to save at least \$5000 for my emergency fund so I won’t need another loan should I be hospitalized again.

Timely

Your saving goals also need target dates to measure progress. Having deadlines also give focus, as well as that “sense of urgency” for that extra push in achieving priorities. In addition, time-bound saving goals can also give important insights when making decisions on short-term and long-term plans.

Ambiguous GoalSMART Goal
I need to have an emergency fund.I’ll save \$500 for the next six months and then \$1,000 for the following months to set up my emergency funds.

In order to achieve your saving goals, this is what your SMART plan will look like.

Goal: celebrate without borrowing any money
 S Celebrate in the Caribbean. M At least \$2,500 budget is needed. A Save \$250 each month. R Travel to celebrate 7th wedding anniversary. T Save for 10 months.

SMART+

Aside from SMART planning, there are also other approaches which are used to design a sound financial strategy and increase savings or achieve financial goals.

Make automated savings a habit

You can increase your funds and achieve your saving goals by taking advantage of modern technology. Institutions now have a number of options and features that make saving easy and convenient. Meanwhile, there are also apps and programs available that you can use to link financial accounts, automate savings, and track progress.

• Maintain more than one account. This way, you can link two accounts and freely transfer funds. Most institutions also offer automatic withdrawals, so use this feature to automate the transfer.
• Arrange for direct deposit. If you receive paychecks twice a month, ask your company if they can transfer part of your salary directly to a savings account.
• Use apps to track and monitor savings and expenses. Often, people overlook their personal budget because it is inconvenient. Using financial and budget apps lets you make personal budgeting plans faster and in the most convenient way.

Cut back on spending

Aside from debt, expenses take the most out of personal budgets. Control your expenditures by taking stock of what you spend on. Most often, people who examine their daily or weekly expenses find out that some of the costs come from spending on nonsense items. A clear picture of expenses will also help avoid overspending.

• Inventory spending habits. Making a list of how you spend money is an expert way of tracking expenditure, and also helps cut the excess off expenses.
• Redirect spending. Getting a clear picture of what you spend money on will help in identifying priorities when it comes to spending, and making the necessary adjustments.
• Don’t mistake wants for needs. Effectively cut back on spending and minimize expenses by identifying priorities. Aside from basic necessities, make sure that the items in your expenses list are what you truly need.

Increase income streams

Some people have little to no savings at all, and their reason is a tight budget. Getting supplemental income on top of the disposable one is a good way to manage spending and increase savings. With a better-sized budget, you can make adjustments and set up additional priorities, including setting aside a good amount of income as savings.

• Get a second income. Earn extra with different odd jobs. These don’t take too much time and some pay a decent return. Extra income ideas include taking online surveys and taking advantage of your skills through freelancing.
• Cash backs and discounts help. While they don’t technically increase income, getting rebates and using coupons whenever they apply are helpful in managing expenses. These give your budget more flexibility in spending.
• Remember the 50-30-20 rule. Disposable income is the “take-home pay,” funds left after the needed deductions. With a good-sized part already gone, you need to be strict with your finances to make ends meet. Experts say that the 50-30-20 rule is a good budgeting method especially for those with fixed income. At least half of the take-home pay is set aside for needs, and the other 50% adjusted between wants, financial goals, and savings.
• Optimize interest rates. Be observant on what banks and accounts to use to get high-yield results. If needed, transfer your savings account to a bank that gives decent interest returns. Meanwhile, be familiar with other types of accounts and other financial instruments and maximize their interest rates to increase savings.

Smart methods = Saving goals achieved

Good-sized savings is an important factor in achieving financial success. Be it for personal wants, emergency funds, or building a budget for other targets, smart plans and approaches help achieve saving goals. Applying these smart methods and approaches means that financial and saving goals are achieved efficiently.