Woman creates a vision board in her office

Studies have shown how athletes use visualization to push their bodies and break records. And picturing themselves doing something has also helped people recovering from strokes regain movement in their limbs. The mind-body connection is a very powerful tool. Writing out your budget and savings goals each month may feel like a chore, but visualizing saving money can help you form great saving habits.

How do you visualize?

In simple terms, visualizing is when you define a goal and then imagine yourself reaching it. Visualization takes nothing more than closing your eyes or grabbing a pen and paper.  The key is to push yourself to be as detailed as possible. When you visualize, don’t place limitations on your goals — but you should be very specific about how you would get there.

Why is visualization effective?

The reason why visualization works is because it encourages internal motivation that helps us map out and navigate the steps necessary to succeed. And through constant visualization of your goals, your brain practices carrying out the necessary tasks, which will make them easier to do in real life.

Get started visualizing.

While you don’t need much to envision your goals, here are some more tangible ways you can incorporate visualizing into your savings strategies.

1. Surround yourself with inspiration.

Who doesn’t want to stare at their dream destination every time they close out of their web browser? Find ways to seamlessly involve images of your goals into your everyday life, and you’ll be on your way before you know it.

Keep inspiration everywhere. Images of a laptop and goals thumbtacked to a bulletin board

The first step? Search the web or an old magazine and discover the images that represent your saving goals. Once you find the pictures that light up your eyes, post them somewhere you see frequently — whether it’s uploading a picture as your computer screensaver or hanging one on your fridge or bathroom mirror. Repeatedly seeing these pictures will trigger you to visualize and stay inspired about saving.

2. Separate your saving goals.

You probably have a number of things you want to save for. Whether it’s the vacuum robot you really want, a couch you’re planning to buy next year, or the down payment on a car you’re hoping to buy one day, trying to save for all the things you want may seem impossible. If you keep all of your savings in one lump sum, it can be difficult to track the progress you’re making towards each goal, and opening various saving accounts can be a hassle.

Separate your savings goals. Images of jars labeled “vacation,” “new car,” and “wedding”

Smart savings tools to the rescue! Our buckets tool lets you name different “envelopes” within your Ally Bank Online Savings Account — one bucket for each of your goals. Besides having a clearer sense of how you’re progressing towards your goal, adding money to your “Roomba fund” bucket is a lot more motivating than transferring it into a generic savings account.

3. Literally imagine how it looks to save.

This may sound like the same strategy as above, but we promise it’s different! We know you’re busy, but try to add a minute or two to your day where you stop everything you’re doing and think about what it looks like to save. Close your eyes and imagine the process you will have to go through to deposit money into your savings account. Think about how you plan to reach your goals — whether that’s depositing a certain amount each week or using recurring transfers to put $100 of each paycheck into savings — and imagine yourself doing just that. These visualizations reinforce confidence in your own perception of your ability to save and help you follow through on your saving commitments.

4. Monitor your progress.

Whether it’s package trackers, pizza trackers, or step counters, seeing visual representations helps you understand how much longer you have until you reach your desired outcome. They also make you feel accomplished and motivated to keep working towards your goal. Create a way to track the progress you are making towards your savings goal. You can make a thermometer chart with money increments and fill it in every time you put money in savings. Or you can make a weekly reminder in your phone to deposit a certain amount into your savings and only “fulfill” it once you have transferred the money.

Track your progress. Images of five checkmarks in a row and a thermometer rising to the halfway point.

5. Understand the aftereffect of buying.

Each time you are considering a purchase, think about the following:

  • Visualize the present. How do you feel at the moment? Are you stressed? Happy? Ready to celebrate? Examine the thoughts and emotions going through your head.
  • Visualize what will happen if you make this purchase. How will it change your life? How will it make you feel?
  • Visualize the non-spending scenario. Picture what your life would look like if you do not make this purchase.
  • Visualize yourself an hour, week, month, and year from now. How might your life be impacted if you do or do not make this purchase?
  • Visualize your goals. Think about what you are saving for and why you want to accomplish them.

If you practice this a couple times throughout the day, it will turn into a habit and you will be able to make a well-informed decision — whether it’s about a fresh juice or those sunglasses you really want. Understanding how each purchase will affect your life in the long run can help you decipher when you really need that pick-me-up, and when you can go without it. When you change your mindset on spending, it can help you feel more inclined to save.

6. Journal the specifics.

Dear diary, it’s time to get into the details. Getting personal and writing down what you are saving for — and more importantly, why — will help uncover the true motivations behind your decision to put your money into savings in the first place. You may think that you have a good idea about what and why you are saving, but you might be surprised at how much you haven’t thought about. Added bonus: This practice helps you figure out the specific steps you need to take to reach your goal.

Write what you’re saving and why. Image of a pen and a journal page that says, “I am going to save $333.33 each month.”

You should consider:

  • The timeline for when you want to accomplish this goal.
  • How much you plan to save each day, week, month, and year.
  • What is really motivating you to save for this goal.

For example — instead of saying “I want to save $20,000 in five years,” write, “I am going to save $333.33 dollars each month for the next five years, so that I can build an emergency fund of $20,000. I am saving this money, so I can have the peace of mind knowing that I have a financial cushion in case I am surprised with an unexpected expense. This goal will help me achieve a new level of financial freedom that I have been wanting for a long time.”

7. Make visualization a family affair.

Peer pressure can often encourage you to go out for dinner with your friends or spend extra money on entertainment that’s not in your budget. While everyone should have fun, always saying yes can force you to put your savings goals on hold. But saying no to the people you love can be a hard task to handle.

The best way to approach a situation like this is to be honest. Say you are trying to save money for a specific something. Include some aspects of your visualization when talking to them, such as how you are planning to save, and why you’re saving for this goal. Talking about your goals with the people around you is a great way to be held accountable and stay inspired! You might even find a savings buddy, and together you can work towards your goals.

The sky’s the limit.

Visualization is an easy-to-implement strategy that helps you bring your goals to life and strengthen your everyday saving habits. Saving money helps you reach your dreams — and no dream is too big! Start envisioning your financial goals today and how you will get there.

Use buckets in our Online Savings Account to help you achieve your savings goals.