saving goals

My saving goals for 2021 are radically different than in years past for obvious reasons–the global pandemic is forcing a lot of us to rethink our long-term plans with respect to saving money, getting a nest egg or maintaining one, and anticipating future financial problems.

Furloughs, layoffs, job loss…those were words we used a lot in 2020 and in the new year even with the promise of Coronavirus vaccinations and much more, it is entirely possible that we have NOT seen the true economic fallout from the last 12 months by a long shot.

Saving Goals = Making Certain Assumptions

Why do I say this? Because when you are planning your saving goals for the year ahead, you want to be able to assume certain things. When times are good, your local businesses staying in business depend on sales, advertising, partnerships, and more to survive and grow.

But the open-again, closed-again nature of the western world’s pandemic response means that some are treading financial water instead of thriving and the true extent of the damage might not be apparent until a business attempts to fully reopen and get back to business without the benefit of the same kind of cash flow, predictability in business, etc. of a “normal” year prior.

Layoffs, Furloughs, And The Damage Done

And that means a lot of us are in danger of losing our jobs when that damage is fully assessed. It would be pure speculation on my part to try to come up with a percentage of local businesses that might have to close once the damages are fully tallied.

So my saving goals for 2021 are more like “income diversity goals”. What I’d like to do is to maintain my current level of saving but in anticipation of a year that might be tight moneywise.

Anyone who works in the gig economy makes a smart move to have diverse income streams but in the current climate it’s no longer an option, really…even for those who think it is. You can’t afford to rely on one source of your income in a lot of cases because you simply don’t know what the future holds for your employer and subsequently for you.

So what’s my advice? This might be a very good year to assume that no gig or job is 100% stable. And instead of saving less, that actually means trying to save a bit MORE in anticipation that you might need to dip into your savings or contingency fund.

But short of that, here is my BEST advice:

While you are still employed and have a source of income coming in, it might be wise to consider planning ahead for later in the year when money could get tighter. What does this mean? Stocking up, slowly over time, essentials you might need to have at the exact moment when you are required to cut back on your spending instead of maintaining your current levels.

This means different things for different people. In my case, it means taking a bit of a financial bite NOW in anticipation of a major expense I’ll definitely have LATER–a laptop purchase is in my immediate future at the time of this writing because my current gear is older than five years and it’s at the end-of-support stages in a lot of cases.

So I’ll be cutting back on my usual indulgences (I can make coffee at home, thanks!) in favor of eating a bigger-than-usual expense now just in case I literally cannot make the same purchase again in six months due to a loss of income.

What this means for YOU is up to you. But it’s a good idea to plan and think this way just in case. Much of the time when I do this, I wind up laughing at myself later because there was no big emergency after all. But there have been a couple of cases where my prep did pay off, and I was seriously glad I did it.

Savings Apps to Try this 2021

App Fess and minimum: Best for:
Digit 30-day free trial period. $5 per month Setting aside automatically
Acorns $1 per month Spare change investing.
Qapital $3 membership Letting you set rules to automate savings.