Special occasions are something we all look forward to, whether that’s the holidays, birthdays, or even anniversaries. But one thing many of us might not anticipate is the financial cost of those celebrations. While you could consider borrowing money to cover the costs with a payday loan or cash advance, those kinds of resources may be best left for the unexpected.

Instead, you can prepare for the big day by saving with budget planning. It doesn’t take much to begin your budget planning; all you need is a bit of help and perseverance. Let’s get you financially ready to pay for your upcoming special occasion!

Step 1: Set A Goal

First thing’s first: You need to set your deadline and total amount of money needed by that date. Be specific to keep your goal clear and you focused. There are many savings worksheets you can use to see the process broken down into manageable weekly or monthly contributions, such as this short-term savings goal calculator.

If you go into this without a savings goal, two different things could happen. First, you could easily overspend on the actual occasion. By keeping a number in mind, you can limit what you spend and avoid having to cover additional surprise costs as the big day gets closer. Second, that savings goal will help you stick to a consistent savings process, so you have a better chance at success. Going in without a plan may result in you putting money away here or there, potentially leaving you without enough set aside.

Step 2: Budget Planning

Now that you know your goals, it’s time to turn to budget planning in order to meet those goals. This will take some time, so get comfortable, but once it’s done, this can help you in a lot of other financial aspects of your life, as well. Overall, budget planning works like this:

  • Start by determining the total income you bring home each month, also called your net income.
  • Make a list of different set expenses you have every month, like your rent, utilities and car payment.
  • Take a look at your spending habits to see what other various charges you make every month, such as gas or eating out.
  • Deduct all of your expenses from your net income, and you’ll know how much is left each month.
If you look online, you can get access to dozens of free budget planning worksheets, such as this one, to help you get started. Again, this might take a few hours so give yourself plenty of time. Before you begin, make sure to have bank statements going back three months to use as a guideline for your spending habits.

It’s important to remember two things while budget planning. One, be as honest with yourself as possible. No one is there to judge you; the point is to get a real picture of your spending habits. Second, you may find out that you spend money unnecessarily. Which brings us to the next step: reining in your spending.

Step 3: Get Your Spending In Check

Now for the hardest part: taking a close look at your everyday spending habits. If you’re afraid to look, that’s okay. Only one in three Americans even track their spending, let alone pay attention to what it is they’re spending money on. By reviewing our finances, we can determine if we are overspending and on what. Here are a few signs that you are overspending:

  • You don’t know how much you spend each month
  • You don’t perform any budget planning
  • You hide purchases or downplay costs
  • You can’t pay off your credit card balance each month
  • You pay your bills late
Learn more about these and other signs of overspending, as well as ways to get out of the cycle, in our article, 9 Signs You Are Overspending Your Budget.

Step 4: Put Your Money to Work

Your money doesn’t just have to sit there and collect dust. Putting your money to work is a great way to help you reach your savings goal sooner. Depending on how long you have until you need to use the funds, here are a few ways you can make your money earn money.

Who says you have to put the money in an account to sit and collect dust? A great way to help you reach your savings goal faster is to make your money work for you. There are a few ways you can go about this, depending on how long you have until you need to use the funds.

Get an Online Savings Account. Put your money into a savings account that earns cash back. A great option for this is an online savings account, which pays up to five times the national average in interest on the balance you maintain. Many of these accounts do not have minimum balances or fees, making it a perfect short-term savings solution. It’s easy to digitally transfer money from your checking into your savings, without even leaving the house.

Look into Certificates of Deposits (CDs). When many of us think of CDs, we imagine socking money away for the long term. That’s not always the case, though. Many banks offer CD options that hold your money and earn interest for as little as three months. While there are minimum deposits required, the added benefit is that you cannot touch the money for a predetermined amount of time - preventing the temptation to dip into it before the big day.

Step 5: Put Away The Extra Money

There are certain times of year when we may receive a little extra cash. Sometimes it’s more than a little; for example, the average annual tax return is just over $3,000 for American households. There’s also anticipated holiday bonuses or cash gifts given by friends and family.

For most of us, we use this cash to cover expenses or catch up on bills more than anything else. But when you’re saving up for an important occasion, you might want to think twice before spending that extra money elsewhere. Instead, consider putting at least some of it aside to meet your savings goal; after all, it will help lower your monthly savings requirements, giving your pocketbook a bit of a break.

Step 6: Earn More Money

Did you know that the average side hustle brings in an average $8,000 of extra income each year? Depending on what your savings needs will be, that could easily cover your goal. It’s time to get your gig up and running.

There are dozens of ways you can spend a little or a lot of time working to get extra income. Driving for Uber, quick online surveys, and even picking up the odd job off Craigslist - the options are almost endless. In fact, we wrote an entire article about Quick Ways to Come Up with Cash - so, no excuses!

Despite your efforts at saving for the big days, even the best-laid plans can go awry. Life often brings us unexpected expenses, leaving us with few options other than using our savings funds to cover the bills. It’s emergency cash situations such as these that LendNation has helped thousands of people get through before.

Title loans, installment loans and payday loans are available through our local stores and online in many states throughout the country. The application is free, fast, and you can get your funds the same day of approval. Keep walking down your savings path and let LendNation lend you a hand when you need it!