Saving for a goal

Saving for a goal icon

Saving helps you to plan for future needs and/or wants. Your goals can be big or small – it depends on where you are at in your life and what you want. Developing saving habits will help you all through your life.

In this topic you can explore a whole range of ideas and activities:

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Reasons to save

Saving allows you to plan for your future, and that increases your ability to achieve financial wellbeing.

Saving and spending involve trade-offs – by saving now, you are giving up something today, so that you can achieve something in the future. Similarly, by spending now, you are giving up the opportunity to save for something in the future.

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How much can you save?

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Something to think about

When you make spending or saving decisions, weigh up the impact of the trade-off you are making to your current self and your future self.

Saving up for something is usually a cheaper way to purchase than borrowing in the long term. Of course, there are some things that we usually need to borrow money for, such as buying a home.

Are there any upcoming purchases that you could save for, rather than borrow for?

Apart from your saving goals, it is a good idea to put money aside for an emergency fund, to cover 3 months of living expenses.

Do you have an emergency fund? How long do you estimate it will it last?

Remember to top it up if you use it.

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Saving habits

Saving regularly is the best way to help your money grow and that the sooner you save, the faster your money can grow.

A regular savings plan is the best way to grow your savings. A payday savings plan, where part of your pay automatically goes into a savings account is one way to set up a regular savings plan.

Looking for the best interest rate on your savings will help your money grow faster.

Think about:

  • setting up a regular savings plan
  • how much to save
  • where you can find money to save – small savings will add up into large savings over time
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Did you know?

In a 2015 survey conducted by ANZ, 80% of surveyed Australians under the age of 40 said they were trying to save on a regular basis.

Source: ANZ Australian Financial Literacy Survey, 2015

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is the cost of using somebody else’s money. When you borrow money, you pay interest. When you lend money, you earn interest. Savings in a bank or credit union earn interest and are the reward for saving.


is the amount of money invested.

Simple interest

is paid on the principal only.

Compound interest

is paid on the principal and any interest already earned.

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Setting savings goals

Setting goals helps to guide your spending decisions. To set goals you first need to identify your priorities.

Savings goals are personal. They reflect and are supported by your values, your lifestyle, your individual needs and wants and your ‘bigger picture’ goals.

Financial goal setting gives you greater control over how you use your money.

Saving for a goal takes time and effort, but is worth it to make sure your financial decisions are conscious and lead towards financial wellbeing.

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Dive deeper into goal setting

Principles and practices to help you to set and achieve goals effectively

  • Reflect on any other personal goals you have such as education, career, health, family, recreation or community service goals. How do they inform and impact on your financial goals?
  • Break your ‘big picture’ goals down into smaller achievable chunks, for example monthly or weekly goals.
  • If you have more than one goal, prioritise them.
  • Set SMART goals:


S Be Specific

Be precise and detailed.

M – Measurable

When your goals are specific you will be able to measure them i.e. know when you’ve achieved them or how far you have to go.

A – Achievable

Set realistic achievable goals. If you set goals that are too difficult to achieve, you can easily become discouraged. Set yourself challenging but achievable goals that give you satisfaction and confidence when you achieve them. NOTE: This does not mean that you cannot set really big goals, but it is important to break these down into achievable chunks.

Make sure that what you aim to achieve is within your control. For example setting a goal of getting a pay increase in 12 months outside your control and may not be achievable

R – Relevant

These are your goals. They should align with your values and the direction you want for your life and your values. Many times in our lives there are others who tell us what our goals could or should be. Do not set your goals based on what you ‘should’ do’ but rather what you choose to do. You will have far greater chance of success.

T – Time bound

If you have set specific, measurable goals put these into a timeframe, set deadlines and keep track of your progress. This will help you to know when you can celebrate your achievements.

More tips for achieving goal success:

  • Use positive language – Describe what you will do rather than what you will avoid. Use language that encourages perseverance and values effort. Changing your language will change the way you think.
  • Check your mindset – what do you believe you can do? Do you believe that hard work, intelligence or luck will get you to your goal?
  • Write your goals down – You have over 50% more chance of achieving your goals when you write them down. 
  • Share your goals with a supportive friend but not with everyone – Having someone who can encourage you to persevere when things get tough can help but talking about your intentions too much can give you a false sense of accomplishment and reduce your motivation.
  • Keep your thinking flexible – Flexible thinking helps you to see challenges as opportunities for growth and learning and helps you to find ways to continue towards your goals even when you have setbacks. Review your goals and explore ways you can overcome any obstacles or setbacks with creative thinking. This will build your confidence and resilience and make it more likely that you will reach your goals.
  • Spend time with other people who are motivated to accomplish their goals – Surrounding yourself with people who have passion and perseverance for accomplishing their goals, will strengthen your positive mindset and encourage you to persevere too.
  • Celebrate and record milestones
    Reflect on your accomplishments and how you want to continue. Celebrate your successes. When you reflect on your choices, do it in a non-judgmental way. If you have not met your goals today, don’t be highly critical of yourself, but think about what you will do differently tomorrow. Thinking positively helps you to stay on track or get back on track, reinforces new habits and ways of thinking and sets you up for future successes.
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Achieving savings goals

Review your goals and to explore ways you can overcome any obstacles that could jeopardise achieving your goal.

You may need to reset your goals if there are major obstacles.

To achieve long term goals, you could think about investing some of your money. You could get some financial advice to set up a good investment strategy.

Have you thought about the steps you could take to achieve your long term goals?

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Dive Deeper

Setting up a savings account

Banks, credit unions and other financial institutions offer savings accounts. Think about your needs and explore the range of account options at a few financial institutions.

How do I know what accounts are available?

You can find out information on savings accounts by visiting bank or credit union branches in person, or by searching online. You can look at the website for each financial institution to find the details of their accounts. There are also bank account comparison websites that you can use to compare different accounts.

Comparing Accounts

When you are deciding which account is the best for you, look out for these features:

  • interest rate
    • simple vs compound interest – compound interest makes your money grow faster
    • how often the interest is paid into your account – the more often it is paid in, the greater the opportunity for your money to grow
    • how long any special interest rates will last for – ‘honeymoon’ deals have a higher interest rate for a short period of time e.g. 6 months, and then revert to a lower interest rate
  • account keeping fees – lower fees mean more of your money stays in your account and grows
  • minimum and maximum balances – some accounts have penalties if the balance falls below, or goes above, certain amounts
  • incentives for making regular deposits and penalties for withdrawing money
  • accessibility – how easily can you deposit and/or withdraw your money

Note that some financial institutions offer low fee accounts for students.

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Do you know what ID you need for your bank?

To set up a savings account, you must first provide identification. All financial institutions have a statutory obligation to verify the identity of their customers. Each financial institution will give you information about how much identification you need and what identification documents they will accept. Your passport, your driver’s license, your birth certificate and your credit card are among the list of documents that can be used to prove your identification.

Some banks will be able to verify your ID online, while other banks may require you to go to a branch to present your documents.

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