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10 Ways to Save for a BIG Goal (Like a Car, House or Vacation)


You have a massive savings goal. You want to save for the down payment on a house, or pay cash for a car, or take the entire family to Europe.

But you’re not sure how to save for such a large goal. You’ve saved for small goals before, like a new TV, but the prospect of saving for a down payment on a home seems intimidating. How can you do it?

#1: Start a specific savings account. Open a specific savings account for the sole purpose of this particular goal. Online banks like SmartyPig and Capital One 360 allow you to open multiple savings accounts and nickname each one, so that you can designate a particular “house down payment” fund.

#2: Work longer hours. If your job offers overtime, take advantage of it. Ask to work 40+ hours a week and put any earnings above your base pay into your savings account. If your job doesn’t allow this, look for a second side job, and put the entire paycheck towards your goal.

#3: Research the item. The biggest key to purchasing a big item is to know how much it will cost you. Once you have a specific monetary goal in mind, you can track your progress more easily.

#4: Stay away from credit. Even though good credit is vital for making large purchases involving loans, bad credit can ruin your chances of reaching your goal if you aren’t careful. Keep one or two credit cards on file but pay their balances off quickly.

#5: Spend less on groceries. Create a reasonable food budget and stick with it. Cut back on eating out at restaurants and buying chips, cookies and other non-essential snacks that hurt your wallet. Take that money and add it to your savings fund.

#6: Create small steps to reach your goal. Having a dream is important, but the path to getting there is equally as important. Set a monthly or weekly savings goal — perhaps you want to save $50 each week. (This feels more achievable than a big number). By the end of X amount of months you will have reached your dream.

#7: Commit to your goal. Is your major savings goal worth your time? Is it really important to buy a different car? Do you really need to take the family to Europe? If this item is something you really need or want, you’ll be able to maintain motivation.

#8: Downsize your home. Are you a renter? Consider downsizing into a cheaper place, or start living with roommates. Put the difference in rental costs into savings on a monthly basis.

#9: Get a second job. If you have the time and energy to work part-time on the weekends, apply for a second job. Some ideas include waiting tables, bartending, babysitting, tutoring, and freelance or consulting work.

#10: Be patient. Anything worthwhile takes time to attain, so don’t despair if it seems like it is taking forever to save money. The bigger your dream is, the longer it may take to reach. But in the end, it will be worth it.

Kennedi writes about frugal fashion, food and fitness. Check out her post on how to eat organic and healthy food on a budget.

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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I agree that you definitely have to know the cost of the item you are saving for ahead of time. People need a concrete goal. I would say that all the rest of your tips apply after you know the cost of the item.

    • Thanks Bryce! Yes, having a specific goal in mind — like a vacation or a new car or a paid-off house — really helps motivate people to save. It’s hard to save for something ‘general,’ but much easier to save for something specific.

  2. Nicely done! Great article.

    We’re trying to pay off $132k in 3 years (or less). That’s about $4k/month. We did that for 9 months non-stop and then felt our conviction wavering – so we broke it down and went with a goal of $2k every two weeks. It’s the same difference, but somehow saving that extra $ on a biweekly basis seemed to make our goal “shrink”. I don’t know why. It really doesn’t make any sense other than the fact that saving $2K each pay period just feels less burdensome than $4k/month. Stupid, right? But, it also got us away from thinking that we’ll never pay off $132k in 3 years, which just seems insurmountable. Once we quit fixating on the big #, the littler # became routine and easy – ok,not exactly easy, but certainly manageable. It just became part of our budget and therefore not a burden.

    • That’s an awesome goal Jim! Sounds pretty similar to mine actually. I am trying to pay off $54,000 (my full mortgage) by the end of 2014. To do this, I will need to scrounge up about $4k per month as well. It’s going to be tough, but man will it be sweet when we are mortgage free! 🙂

    • Wow, that’s a huge goal! I like your mental approach. $132K sounds like a mind-boggling number. But when you call it $4k, it sounds more reasonable, and then when you call it $2K per pay period, it sounds ultra-manageable. The best way to approach finances is to understand your personal psychology and reframe the world to fit with whatever motivates you. Congrats on making so much progress already!

  3. I liked the last one 🙂

    • Patience is a virtue … especially when it comes to long-term financial goals!

  4. It’s the big goals that are hardest to save for; they take longer and it’s easier to push them off – forever! Earning more money and drastically cutting back on expenses, especially housing, is a great way to save enough to reach those goals.

    • Little House — Exactly. If a goal is too big, it’s easy to procrastinate starting! The best way to achieve it is to break it into smaller, bite-sized chunks.

  5. It is really quite hard to save especially for big goals. It takes quite some sacrifices. I personally want to save up for a house and we did some adjustments with our expenses. We are actually half way with realizing our plans.

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