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Jun 28, 2024

How to save $10,000 in a year: a step-by-step guide

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If you have a big financial goal on the horizon in the next 12 months, you’ll need an action plan to get there. Saving $10,000 in a year might sound ambitious, but it can be achievable with a solid strategy and practical steps to enact it. Whether you’re saving for an emergency fund or have a major purchase in mind, taking action now can help you hit your target within your timeline. 

In this article, we’ll cover:

Step 1: Assess your financial situation

Before you can create a savings strategy, you’ll need to understand your current financial situation. This involves analyzing your income and expenses so you know how much money you can reasonably set aside each month. 

Analyze your income and expenses

Begin by tallying up your monthly income. List all sources of income, including your salary and anything you earn from things like side gigs or passive income. If you receive payments such as child support, spousal support, or government benefits, don’t forget to include that too. When adding up your total monthly income, be sure you’re calculating your net earnings, which is what you make after any taxes and other deductions.

Next, add up your monthly expenses. Take stock of what you spend money on each month, including necessities like rent, groceries, and utilities, as well as discretionary spending on things like entertainment and shopping. Be sure to account for periodic expenses that don’t happen each month, such as quarterly utility bills or annual subscriptions. 

Now compare your income to your expenses. If you earn more than you spend, the excess money can be used for your goal of saving $10,000 in a year. But if you find that you’re living beyond your means, you’ll have to make some adjustments so you have money left over to save. 

Step 2: Create a savings plan

When determining how to save $10,000 in a year, a specific plan is important. By breaking that number down into bite-size pieces and establishing a solid savings habit, you can transform your goal into concrete actions. 

Define your savings goal

When setting savings goals, people generally break them down into short, medium, and long-term goals; a one-year timeframe is considered a short-term target. The more specific you can be about your goal, the more motivated you’re likely to be when sticking to your savings plan. If you’re wondering how to save $10,000 in a year, you likely have a reason. So get very clear on exactly what you want to use that money for. You might want to create an inspiration board or write out a detailed description of your goal so you can refer to it as you advance along your savings journey.  

Set a monthly savings target

To save $10,000 in a year, you’ll need to break down your goal into manageable monthly targets. When you divide $10,000 by 12 months, it equals approximately $834 per month. If this seems daunting, consider breaking it down further into bi-weekly, weekly, or daily targets. For instance, saving $28 per day can make the goal feel more achievable and give you ideas for where you might cut that much from your discretionary spending.

Adjust your plan for income variability. If your income fluctuates from month to month, plan to save more money during months when you have higher earnings so you can account for lower-earning months and unexpected expenses.

Automate your savings

Automating your savings makes it easier to stick to your plan and reduces the temptation to spend the money elsewhere. Set up automatic monthly transfers into a dedicated savings account; you might want to choose the day after payday for your monthly transfer so you don’t accidentally dip into the money you’ve earmarked for savings. To make saving even more effortless, check to see if your employer can split your direct deposit between your savings and checking accounts so that money automatically goes into your savings before you can touch it. 

Step 3: Reduce expenses

For many people, saving $10,000 in a year will call for some belt-tightening. By finding practical ways to save money, you can free up more of your income to put into your savings account. Review your expenses and look for places you could trim your spending. 

Cut down on unnecessary costs

Take a look at your discretionary spending and consider what you could go without. Review your subscriptions and memberships and cancel any services you no longer use or need. Look for free events in your area that you could attend instead of spending money on outings. Consider cooking at home more often to save on the cost of dining out or ordering delivery.  

Reduce the cost of necessities

Review what you’re spending on necessities like utility bills and insurance, and look for money-saving opportunities. For instance, energy-saving practices like turning off lights when not in use, using energy-efficient appliances, and reducing water consumption can help whittle down your monthly bills. You might also shop around for better deals on your phone plan, internet, and car insurance. Small changes can add up to significant savings over time.

Step 4: Increase your income

Another strategy to save $10,000 in a year is to boost your income and dedicate the extra earnings to your savings goal. As you’re considering options, be sure to keep work/life balance in mind so that you don’t burn yourself out with extra work that’s not sustainable. 

Explore additional income streams

Consider taking on a side hustle like a gig job or freelance work. If you have a hobby that you could monetize, such as photography, writing, or crafting, it can be a rewarding way to increase your income while doing something you enjoy. You could also look into passive income opportunities, which allow you to earn money without spending a lot of extra time and effort. And don’t forget about windfalls: if you expect to get a bonus or a tax return this year, commit to putting that money into savings so that you can get closer to your $10,000 goal faster.

Earn interest on your savings

Where you store your savings affects how quickly your money can grow. Regular savings accounts often offer low interest rates, so consider a high-yield savings account or money market account, where you can earn more interest. If you have a chunk of money you can put aside now, you might also consider a certificate of deposit (CD), which pays a higher interest rate in exchange for keeping your money in the account for a set term. 

Ask for a raise or promotion

Increasing what you earn from your regular job puts more money into your pocket without demanding more of your time. Research salaries in your industry to get a sense of what’s reasonable for your location, role, and experience level. Prepare for the conversation with your employer by gathering evidence of your contributions and achievements and practicing negotiation techniques to set yourself up for success.

Step 5: Manage and reduce debt

If you’re carrying high-interest debt, the money you’re spending on interest payments can undermine your ability to save that $10,000 in a year. Getting out of credit card debt, in particular, may put you in a better position to save up instead of racking up interest every month.   

Prioritize debt repayment

Start by assessing your debt situation. List all outstanding debts along with their balances and interest rates. Create a debt repayment plan focusing on high-interest debts. You might want to try the snowball method or avalanche method; both strategies can make paying off debt more manageable and give you a solid strategy you can stick to.

Consider debt consolidation

If you’re carrying multiple balances on high-interest credit cards or other loans, you might save money with debt consolidation. Explore options for consolidating high-interest debt into a single, lower-interest loan or a card with a low interest rate. This can simplify your repayment process and potentially reduce the total amount of interest you pay. Keep in mind, however, that there are often fees associated with debt consolidation, so make sure the money you save on interest payments outweighs any costs. 

Step 6: Stay motivated and on track

If you want to save $10,000 in a year, you’ll need to stick with your plan every month. Over time, the temptation to spend money can creep in and derail your progress. Putting systems in place for monitoring and accountability can help you sustain your motivation throughout the year. 

Track your progress

Set regular check-ins to review your savings progress. You might want to sit down every week or month to see how well your savings plan is working and make adjustments based on your results. In addition to tracking your savings, keep track of your spending so that you’re aware of where your money’s going and can curb impulse spending that might throw you off course.

Celebrate milestones

Celebrating milestones, no matter how small, can keep you motivated and make the process more enjoyable. Set mini-goals along your savings journey and reward yourself for reaching them. For instance, you might celebrate when you hit your first $1,000, when you successfully go a month without impulse spending, or any other achievement that feels meaningful to you. Just be sure that you don’t derail your savings progress with rewards that eat into your budget. You might find low- or no-cost ways to treat yourself, like having an at-home spa day or cooking a special meal.  

Stay accountable

Share your savings goal with friends or family to keep yourself accountable. Consider finding a savings buddy who shares similar financial goals for mutual support. Having someone to share your progress with can provide encouragement and help you stay committed. You might explore the idea of loud budgeting, in which you publicly share your financial goals and progress to hold yourself accountable and find support from your community.  

Start now to save $10,000 in a year 

While your savings goal may be ambitious, it can be achievable when you make a plan and stick to it. When you’re figuring out how to save $10,000 in a year, focus on details like why you want to hit that milestone, what you’ll do with the money, and what changes you’re willing to make in your day-to-day finances to get you there. Create a plan, make adjustments as needed, and celebrate your progress along the way. And, most importantly, start now: the sooner you begin your savings journey, the sooner your efforts can pay off. 

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Written by

Tara Blaine

Tara Blaine draws on over 20 years of experience as a writer to translate seemingly complex financial ideas into insights readers can put to work in their everyday lives. She’s written personal finance education materials for numerous institutions, helping customers learn smart techniques for budgeting, overcoming debt, saving money, and planning for their long-term financial health.

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