If you were given five minutes to think about all the things you’d like to save money for right now, how many things would you think of? Two, five, maybe even ten?

The reality is, it’s very rare that you can focus all your efforts on one single savings goal. You may have credit card debt that you’re looking to clear. Perhaps your old car is on it’s last legs. Maybe you’d like to save up an emergency fund. With all this going on at once, how can you possibly save for multiple goals at once? And fundamentally, should you even try?

It’s going to take time

The first thing to accept is that, if you do choose to save for multiple things at once, it is going to take more time.

For example, if you’ve budgeted to place £150 in savings each month and you’ve got 3 separate savings goals (each with equal levels of priority), you can only put £50/month towards each of these savings goals.

If, however you choose to prioritise one goal at a time, you’ll find yourself hitting that savings goal much quicker.

The major pitfall of this method is that all other goals will have to sit on the back-burner until that goal is reached. This can mean it’s years before you even make a start on saving towards some of your lower-priority goals – which simply may not be practical for many.

Choosing the right method for you is entirely personal – hopefully by the end of this article, we’ll have made your decision a little bit easier.

Distinguishing wants and needs

Many experts believe that you should treat your spending as a hierarchy, whereby your priorities are based on what you need vs. what you want.

Your main priority should be things that you need to survive– food, water, shelter, healthcare and clothing. Some of the more hardcore savers amongst us would say that everything else is secondary, however for most of us, this simply isn’t the case.

For most, transport to get to and from work is a priority, for others Wifi will be a necessity to running their business. Nonetheless, we’ve all been guilty of prioritising our wants over our needs.

One thing that is for sure when it comes to financial goal setting – if you have a savings goal based around your basic human needs – this should always take precedence over everything else

Prioritising based on the required amount

Another method that you could try is prioritising your savings goals based on the amount required.

Let’s your 3 main goals are: a new laptop, a new car and saving to buy your first home.

Now, depending on the make or model you want, a laptop is likely to cost between £300 and £1,000 A new car may cost between £4,000 and £10,000 (once again, this is very much dependent on a variety of factors) and a deposit on your first home could be between £10,000 and £25,000.

By prioritising saving for a new laptop first, you may be able to tick this off within a matter of a few months. Whereas had you have prioritised the car, it may be years before you get around to buying a new laptop, by which time your old one may have given up!

Summary

When it comes to prioritising savings, there really is a number of ways to go about doing it. To find out which method is best for you, you need to ask the following questions:

  • What goals are based on needs and what are based on wants.
  • How long am I willing to take to reach each goal.
  • Which goal is going to bring me the most long-term happiness.

Having answered each of these, you should have a pretty good idea of how you’re going to prioritise your savings goals.