Our recent research has revealed that less than half of us have a long-term goal that we’re saving towards in the form of a five year plan and with the cost of living hitting hard, those that have are prioritising financial security over other traditional goals such as homeownership. 

If you're struggling to save right now have a look at our guide to the easy 50/30/20 rule which could help you and download our free spreadsheet to help you put it into practice day to day.

Making a Plan

When thinking about the future, it’s common for people to have a five-year plan, a list of goals that they would like to have accomplished. It might be expected that common goals on this list include marriage, children, and home ownership, but a new survey of the UK population reveals that the most common goal is to increase the amount of money they have saved. 

When asked about  their five-year ambitions,

  • 21% of people said they want to save more money to fund future plans.
  • 9% want to buy a house
  • 17% stated they had plans to improve or expand their current home instead of splashing the cash on a new property,
  • 14% saying they want to create a general financial cushion for themselves to provide comfort and peace of mind
  • 5% have plans to start investing their money to make it work for them. 

Check out the guides and advice section of our website for help with all of these things if they sound like the plans you have for yourself.

Securing a promotion at work, (6%), getting married (3%) and having children (1%) didn’t feature as heavily as they may have traditionally.

Putting Your Plan Into Action

However, when it comes to achieving these goals, a third of people are not actively tracking their progress towards accomplishing their objectives. 

Of those that are, 29% may be hindering their success by maintaining a long-term view, which can create a feeling that our desired achievements are unobtainable, especially in the current economic climate.

Furthermore, despite the fact that financial savings are a priority for most, there are still 30% who are not putting any money away whatsoever to help fund their five year plan.

To help those people who are yet to start saving to put in place a solid five-year savings plan, RIFT has offered five vital tips. 

Set clear goals

Five-year goals need to be precise rather than broad. This will help you properly track your progress. So, instead of saying ‘I will buy a house’, say something like ‘I will save £30,000 for a deposit’. 

Dream big, think small

£30,000 is a daunting figure. So it’s best to break it down into small chunks. Instead of keeping that lump sum in your head, think of it as £116 a week. To start with, you could think even smaller: start with £25 a week and work your way up to more as you go.

Pay yourself first

Lots of people save whatever they don’t spend. This is tricky because you’ll often spend most, if not all,  of your money. Instead, ‘pay yourself’ at the start of each week or month. Let’s say 20% of earnings. This makes it much easier to live within your means and put a cap on unnecessary spending.

Accelerate your savings

You can reduce how much you need to save each week by putting your savings into an account that gains interest over time. Instead of having to save £116 a week, you might only have to save £108, for example. Every penny matters. But, most high street banks don’t offer huge interest rates on savings accounts, so you might want to think about investing. 

Invest and save

It might be a good idea to invest some, not all, of your savings in stocks and shares. You do need to accept a certain level of risk when doing this, so getting advice from a pro is always good. In return for this risk, however, you’re likely to get better interest than a savings account. Sometimes, much better. But, again, sometimes you can lose the money you’ve invested. 

You can learn much more about saving and investing here.

CEO of RIFT Tax Refunds, Bradley Post, commented:

“Times are hard for many at the moment but when it comes to saving, a little is better than nothing. 

Saving is all about financial discipline and while it may seem a hard task, the best approach is to designate a monthly amount and put that money away at the start of the month, like you would when paying a bill or other financial commitment. 

Saving can be a learning curve and takes time to perfect and to change old habits. Creating a five year plan can be a great way to retrain your brain by giving you a medium term goal to strive for. 

One thing is for sure, though, you’re never going to regret having savings but there is a very good chance you’ll come to regret not having them.”

Check If You're Owed Any Tax Refunds

If you're going to save money, for whatever purpose, it's essential you're not missing any opportuntiies by missing out on money that belongs to you.

With 2 out of 3 people aren't aware that they need to claim tax refunds for work related travel and so around £300 that should be sitting in people's bank accounts is sitting in HMRC's pockets instead.

Use our quick tax refund checker to see if you're owed cash back. The average refund is worth around £2,500 and it only take a couple of minutes to find out. It could be the most worthwhile time you spend today.