The Important Things We’re Saving For (Our Savings Goals for 2018)

Each year I take a moment to consider my annual savings goals: retirement, emergency, short-term, etc.

What do I want to get done with my savings in 2018 to feel like I made a solid push towards my plan for financial independence? Let's take a look.

I’m a believer in being intentional and putting carrots out there for myself. So, here we are.

If you want to have success with your finances and move towards financial independence I think setting goals is a great place to start. Hopefully, this article will inspire you to take action and set some goals yourself.

If you’re just getting started it’s important not to compare your beginning to my middle/end. We all started somewhere. Thankfully I’ve documented each of my annual savings goals for the last 11 years and you can check them all out by using the navigation buttons at the bottom of this post. And if you want to see a summary of what I’ve been able to do in the past decade, be sure to check out this post.

And by all means, please share your savings goals below in the comments. Many of you are in a different place in life than I am and I like seeing what people are saving for so I can discover new things.

For instance, Rob from Dough Roller shared his plan for saving for giving through a donor-advised fund a few years ago. This ended up being a stretch goal for me last year which I achieved.

Another good resource for savings goal inspiration is Reddit’s Financial Independence subreddit thread on this topic.

Alright, let’s dig in and look at each of my goals.

We're sharing our 2018 savings goals so you can see what we save for and make goals yourself.

1. Maintain emergency fund.

Classic. The ole emergency fund. You gotta have it to keep you out of debt and to survive a temporary loss of income. I try to keep mine around 6 months of bare-bones spending (~$2,500/mo). This money is kept in my taxable Betterment account invested pretty aggressively.

I normally would advise emergency savings to be kept in a savings account but I keep so much short-term savings (see #2 below) in a savings account that I feel over-exposed from cash, AND because I also have some business savings in regular business savings accounts. We’ve got plenty of FDIC insured savings.

If you’d like to learn more about Betterment, see my full review.

2. Maintain cash for short-term savings above and beyond emergency fund.

We’ve got some short-term savings needs here – money we intend to spend, or money we would be likely to spend in the next 1-3 years. The breakdown is:

  • $7,500 for property taxes (due this Dec.),
  • $15k for a “new to us” truck/car (hopefully not used anytime soon),
  • $15k for new floors and home improvements (likely used this Spring or Summer), and
  • $7,500 for an upstairs A/C (our downstairs A/C went out last year…fingers crossed this one lasts a few more years).

This money is kept in my new Money Market Savings account with Capital One 360 (currently earning 1%). If we didn’t already have this money saved I’d simply break down the total amount per pay period or month until the cash is needed and set up automatic contributions to get them headed in that direction. Set it and forget it.

For your savings efforts, be sure to check out our list of auto-saving apps to kick off the saving habit, and then peruse the high-yield rates over at our list of the best savings accounts.

3. Max out our SIMPLE IRA annual contributions for FinCon (PT Money Conferences, LLC) and max out our Solo 401K with PT Money (PT Money LLC).

Because I now have employees at FinCon, this business switched to a SIMPLE IRA from a Solo 401K in the New Year. So this year my goal is to max out our SIMPLE IRAs at $12,500 each. That’s $481 per bi-weekly paycheck each for my wife and me.

My company can also contribute a match of up to 3% of my salary. My salary in 2018 is going to be $40,000 so I’ll get another $1,200 to put into this account for 2018. My wife’s salary is the same and so she’ll also get the $1,200.

This SIMPLE IRA account is set up with Vanguard and will be entirely investing with VFORX, the low-cost target-date fund.

My other business, PT Money, still has the Solo 401K and so I’ll be contributing the max to that as well for 2018. The max contribution limit is $18,500.

Now, because I’ve already contributed $12,500 personally to a SIMPLE IRA I’ve got to subtract that amount from the higher Solo 401K limit, leaving me with just $6,000 to save. My wife participates in this business and plan as well and will also be able to save up to an additional $6,000.

Lastly, my wife and I will also take a small salary from PT Money so the company can contribute up to 25% of my salary towards my Solo 401K. It’s hard to know what our income will be but let’s just say it’s $12,000 total (i.e. enough for us to make the total max contributions to the Solo 401Ks. That gives us a 25% kicker of $3,000 ($1,500 each).

That’s a confusing mess I know. But the bottom line is that at the end of 2018 we will have the opportunity to save (and receive a tax deferral for) at least $42,400.

4. Save $50 per month per kid (8, 6, & 3) in their 529 College Savings Plans.

Our retirement plans come first so we don’t put a lot into this. Additionally, we want our kids to foot some of the bill with their own savings, scholarships, and loans.

We have the 529 accounts set up with Ohio’s plan: We used this out of state plan because there is no state tax advantage in Texas and Ohio’s plan had great plan fund options (i.e. Vanguard funds) vs other states back in 2008 when we got started.

We’ve saved roughly $18,000, $12,000, and $3,500, respectively, for our 3 kids. And so this year we want to add $600 per kid to those totals.

Summary and misc.

That’s about it. For vacations, we typically use credit card points and/or pull from our checking. The same goes for Christmas gifts, etc.

For 2018, I think any excess earnings will be put towards home mortgage debt repayment and/or our small-but-growing taxable stock investment account over at Ally Invest. The vast majority of our retirement savings is tax-deferred and we can’t touch it for another 20 years so we’ll need to start boosting savings we can use sooner.

In other news, we still don’t have access to save into an HSA because we participate in a medical sharing program vs having real insurance. But I’m still holding out hope this will become an option. And while we’re perfectly happy with this program, Medi-Share, the elimination of the Obamacare penalty might allow high-deductible plans to become a reality for us again.

And finally, as I mentioned in the intro, we did save for and start a donor-advised fund (through Vanguard Charitable). That was opened in early December of 2017 and we went ahead and contributed two years worth of contributions due to the tax law changes. I’ll explain that in more detail when I write about the fund in the future.

What about you? What are your savings goals?

Want to see our goals from previous years? Click to the next page.

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Last Edited: March 12, 2018 @ 9:58 am The content of is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, financial writer, podcaster, FinCon Founder, husband, and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Listen to the new podcast, Masters of Money!


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Amazing article, It is a really effective plan for financial independence. Small changes in daily life help us to save more and improve financial position. Thanks for sharing this informative post with us.

  2. Yowza! That calculations you need to do for your Simple IRA and Solo 401k contributions makes my head hurt. Like you said: “…That’s a confusing mess I know. …”

    But I know it is definitely worth it.

    I went overboard for a long time with tax-deferred accounts. I contributed so much to IRAs and 401Ks, I neglected non-tax deferred savings. So while I had a lot in those tax deferred items, I had little other savings. Hurt me when I wanted to buy a house. Buying a house means down payment, and down payment means cash. So let’s not neglect regular savings and investment.

  3. My goal is to increase income as I live frugally already.

  4. Geesh, my goal for the year would be just to get to having an emergency fund as large and long lasting as yours is. Gotta start somewhere I suppose!

  5. Nice article,great goals to start a year. I loved your perspective towards money.
    Thanks for sharing such ideas.keep writing.

  6. I’m hoping to save for a new car this year as well… Let’s just say I’m getting pretty tired of my old one. Problem after problem after problem. It gets old pretty fast sinking money into a seemingly endless pile of problems.

    Gotta get on top of my emergency fund first though before I can start thinking about a new car.

  7. Great goals for a great year. Hoping to be able to come to FinCon this year for the first time. Started my website in November of 2017. Really looking forward to getting to know you site better along the way!

  8. Philip,

    Great post! For financial goals, I agree that it is crucial to write them down and to track progress. Maintaining emergency funds and cash for short term savings are both valuable for as you mention to stay out of debt and to account for those unexpected or expected short term expenses. You also have fantastic savings goals regarding retirement accounts.

    I also have a few goals that I hope to accomplish this year. I will continue to max out my 403B and Roth IRA, build up my savings to a designated amount, which will be allocated across a Wealthfront portfolio, short term securities, and cash, and to consistently spend less each month. My final goal relating to spending less each month is tracked through my use of Personal Capital. Every month, I can see how much I spend and therefore I can track my progress.

    Good stuff!

  9. I made it my goal to completely pay off my house in 2017 and being extremely frugal. It was definitely hard at times but in the end, it was so worth.

  10. I like your attitude to money. But tell me, do you have a long term reserve? Recently I’ve found a book by Bodo Shafer who says that about 50 thousand is a minimum saving.

    • Philip Taylor says:

      I think I could be challenged to increase my cash savings yeah. But I do have a lot of business savings which I think gives me the sense that I’m good in that department. For me, $10 could last 6 months on a very hard core frugal lifestyle. In 6 months I could come up with a game plan to bring in more revenue.

      • Ten Bucks? Think you’d have to be the most frugal person in the states if you could last on that!

        • I’m sure I meant 10K. 🙂

          • Yes, I thought so too. But, it is not what was written and I’m reminded of a lesson I had at Primary School (Grade School to US persons) in 1965 (Yep, showing me age, showing me age) of where a typist missed out a comma in a contract and it cost the Government 10,000 pounds to correct the mistake. In today’s money that would be around $NZ 400,000 or just under $US 295,000

            So, in the real world, getting it wrong can have serious consequences. And no, the typist apparently did not lose her job.

  11. I like your approach!
    Our primary goal for 2017 have been to reduce our food cost.
    So far we have reduced it by 46,87 % compared with 2016 which is mainly due to our weekly meal plans.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. It’d sure be nice if they’d get the healthcare stuff sorted out so we can finally start budgeting for our healthcare properly. It’s hard to know what to do when it’s all up in the air like this, and it’s been up in the air since… well, pretty much since January 20th.

    I’m not an impatient man, but come on!

  13. Nice blog post..when it comes to finance we only think of how can we save our expenses but never think upon environment conservation..liked the idea that you have explained.

  14. Thanks for your PT Money Shot!

    How ’bout that in marketing you, & doing all you do?
    feel free to use it, si vous plait!

    Maybe for a NY resolution starter and/or a plug for my marketing skills on my LinkedIn profile?

    • My goal is to incorporate what you have done, but in a New Month’s Resolution regarding financial education & planning.
      I am woefully ignorant on most things regarding financial management.
      I plan on incorporating one of your principles, then mastering the understanding & practice.
      Furthermore, to enrich and deepen my own understanding, I plan to ask 3 different friends who are specialized in respective fields to fine tune the implementation for me. & to optimize my understanding by teaching what I learn to others, especially my family, to help them, cement my mastery, & to learn from their questions, things that I have not considered before.

  15. I am just starting out with money goals, so I am keeping it simple for 2016. I would like to continue to not have any debt and begin an emergency fund.

  16. Becky Riggs says:

    For 2016,I am following the reverse 52 week savings challenge, putting my spare change in a coffee can. I was lucky to have a financial plan created for me so I am sticking to that to help me get out of debt.

  17. My debt snowball is almost complete and I will soon have all our medical debt paid off (medical bills and a student loan are the only debt I have). I’m hoping that once the snowball is complete, I can use that money to start contributing to a college savings account for my son. As a single parent, it’s a priority but I haven’t been able to free up monthly money to do it … but this is the year!!!

  18. Our goal is to fully fund a trip to Arizona this fall and to pay for my master’s classes without incurring debt!

  19. Just started the 52 week challenge to save $5000 in an emergency fund!

  20. Penny Price says:

    Our savings goals for 2016 include $1,000 to kids’ college fund (in a MM account), fully funding our Roth’s ($11k in 2016), saving-then-donating $5k to local charities, and otherwise preparing a long-term plan to address our Very Vintage home (which is missing helpful things like insulation and window-weather-stripping). Cheers!

  21. I’m another person who prefers systems over goals but our plan is to invest more in dividend yielding stocks so we can get some stable income during the year. It’s something I started a few years ago, to help smooth out the unpredictability of owning your own business, and I want to do more of that this year.

    • Solid suggestion. I have a desire to get a dividend portfolio going as well. It’s just so hard to pass up that tax deferment. Maybe I’ll start doing a half and half approach.

  22. Our savings goal for 2016 is to start putting money in our savings every month and keeping it there for emergencies. All to often day to day activities have become “emergencies”!

  23. Lindsey thompson says:

    Having just become debt free (but the house) in 2015 we have a goal to contribute monthly to Roth IRAs for each of us, a 529 for our son and save up to buy my husband a new car by the end of the year.heard about you on So Money:)

  24. Our goal for 2016 is to get the irs paid off and start saving for taxes. My husband and I are both self employed and this has been our downfall.

  25. Hey PT – Great post as always. I am also a huge fan of CapOne360 accounts because they make it so easy to have separate savings accounts for these types of things. Similar to your setup, we use separate accounts to set money aside for annual expenses (property tax, insurance, etc) and for more fun activities (road trips). For 2016, we are setting money aside each month to fund some home improvement projects.

  26. I find setting small, short term goals each month to be more successful for me than a master plan for the year. Makes them easier to see through. Just what works best for me.

    Good luck to everyone with their goals in 2016.

  27. Thanks for the giveaway! Our 2016 savings goals are to max out retirement accounts and contribute to a vacation account. Happy New Year!

  28. Wow, that is so awesome that you can comfortably put away that much in savings every month!! Unfortunately, I was not very good with money management until 2007, when I read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. I had over $30k in debt and was renting an apartment. I would have been out of debt within 3-4 years, but a lot of “stuff” got in the way, including a bad marriage and divorce, purchasing my second house when I wasn’t ready, and other things. Fast forward to now, and I am well on my way to being debt free and owning a house again! I have just over $5k in debt, have a nice size 401k savings that I am continuously contributing to, have an emergency savings of about $6k, have a great engineering job, and own my own handmade jewelry business, selling on Etsy. My goals for this year is to get out of debt, and have enough money for a down payment on a house! Very excited!! 🙂

    • Update on my goals for 2017… I didn’t purchase the house yet. I wanted to get completely out of debt (which I did!!), and then save save save!! So now I have almost $30K saved, but I want to save more because I will still need an emergency fund and I will also need to purchase furniture, appliances, etc. plus I know there are closing costs and a bunch of fees when purchasing a house (this will be my third house purchase). I am definitely planning to have at least 20% for the down payment. I’m planning to get the house around July/August 2017. Wish me luck!! 😉

      • This is great, Angela! Congrats on the success so far and good luck purchasing the 3rd house.

        • And hopefully this will be your forever house. Buying and selling houses is a monumental money pit.

          And yeah, congratulations on getting to where you are now.

          Remember, furnishing your house with pre-loved furniture and appliances is a frugal way of staying out of massive debt. So what if it isn’t new, if you buy new and install it in your home it magically is now used, so therefore not new.

          Buying new clothes at a store? Read a comment from a sales assistant that most items have been tried on in the shop between 5 and 7 times before being sold. So technically it is used clothing. Food for thought? Apparently there are people who are shocked at that revelation because they “pride” themselves on never wearing clothes that other people have worn. LOL

  29. Penny Price says:

    Our families’ plan for 2015 lists charitable contributions. I just had a Date Night with the hubby where we talked about how much $$ we’ve allocated for 2015, and we determined which causes we can support. It’s also important that the kiddo sees that giving our time/talent/treasures is part of our regular life.

    I also have a savings goal connected with a small marriage-building trip. Think camping just the hubby and I for 4 nights or so. I have to plan for stuff/food/childcare/PTO and more, but a focus on marriage is a priority we have learned to make.

    It’s not that your 2015 goals are bad….I just wonder if they really reflect the Big Picture? And maybe they do?

    • Penny, thanks for the comment.

      I agree if giving is a wish it should be planned out and part of a budget or saving goal. We do the vast majority of our giving regularly through our Church with automatic withdrawals before we spend on anything else, including savings. So while a part of our monthly budget, they aren’t something we save for gifting later at a different time.

      I love the marriage priority.

  30. Financedin says:

    The majority of people don’t have a 12 month emergency fund. It’s unfortunate but most people find it hard to save money, this is why my favorite tip of yours is automating your savings. Much needed tips to start the new year.

  31. Philip,

    Great post on your savings! Your financial outlook pretty much mirrors what me and my minions are trying to achieve.

    Your Capital One 360 savings accounts is genius and I’m going to steal that idea to help keep a clear picture of how much is in each fund, as opposed to one big emergency fund account.

    Do you use any brokerage accounts to save for the long term? I know they are risky, but could potentially give a higher return than online savings accounts.

    • Ian, my long term savings is my main focus and we use Vanguard target date funds in tax-advantaged accounts. I do have accounts with Sharebuilder ($1.5K) , Betterment ($10K), and Motif Investing ($.5K). The Betterment account is an extension of my emergency savings. More risk, but more return. I’ve also dabbled in $5K-$10K debt and real estate investments, with higher return. But I wouldn’t feel comfortable with all my emergency savings in anything other than FDIC insured products. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  32. It seems like you’ve got everything covered for this year. These are definitely good points to consider when saving and making sure you don’t have loopholes because you’ll never know. I might just make adjustments to my savings goals this year and take note of your plan.

    Have you ever thought of having a ‘fun’ savings? Other people might find this funny, but I’ve been thinking about having one for this year. This can go to those I-want-this purchases and maybe some little trips here and there. What do you think?

    • Great idea! I think we would probably consider our Travel savings account the fun account. But I didn’t really consider other “I want this” type spending. Definitely should be a part of any regular budget.

  33. Do you save up for a replacement car? That is one of our savings categories. We also save for our donor advised charitable fund. Since we no longer can itemize every year, we bunch schedule A items every few years. Our fund allows us to do that.
    I don’t know what our goals will be since we are considering a move closer to my husband’s job, which will sadly put us back in a mortgage.

    • We are not. But we should probably be putting something aside for that. Even if it’s just a small amount. In the past we’ve replaced our vehicles in the year of a big financial win – bonus, unexpected income, etc. But I know we can’t necessarily count on that forever. Right now we have a 2012 Honda Odyssey we purchased brand new. That will last us another 8-10 years at least. So it’s hard thinking about such a distant purchase.
      I didn’t know about the donor advised charitable fund. I will have to look into that when we lose our home mortgage interest deduction.

      • Au contraire… if you can think about retirement savings and the benefits of saving now for later it isn’t really a paradigm shift to think of saving for a replacement car, or a replacement anything for that matter.

        My strategy is purchase an item. Estimate its lifespan, knock 20% off that time to try and butt cover for worst case scenario and have to replace early. Use that second lifespan time to calculate how much you would need to save in today’s prices for replacement and divide by your pay periods. So if you are paid monthly (OMG how do people DO that?) then divide by twelve. Fortnightly and weekly by the appropriate numbers.

        Works for me…

  34. Excellent post.
    When we used to live in Europe, we had similar goals. Now that we have a child with special needs, everything has fallen apart, but plan to get over this next year. Thanks for kicking my rear end 🙂

  35. Sounds like you have most of the bases covered. I’d say go ahead and get things automated right now. It probably took longer to write this post than it would take to go ahead an automate your savings 🙂

  36. I also have a rental property and never thought of the idea of opening a small business account for it. Must look into that option!!

  37. GaelicWench says:

    I’ve got the 52-week challenge on automatic. My plan with that money is perhaps take a volunteer vacation down under (NSW-Queensland) around Christmas. I just need to remember it’ll be hotter than the hubs of h*ll during that time. I need to pay my way down there and, depending on the non-profit, will get free room and board. There’s a wildlife reserve down there that needs volunteers to work. That would be hard work, but truly rewarding. So, that’s my travel goal for 2014. 
    When I am once again gainfully employed – I am currently going to school FT – through my employer, I’d like to get an HSA account started if they offer it, as well as get back on track for my 401k. My EF is on automated as well…..thankfully, through the VA I qualify for VRAP, so am getting a sizable chunk of money from them to help with school and living expenses. No car loan to worry about, just insurance. 

    One small step at a time…..

  38. Some of these goals are similar to mine.  I have been wondering about pulling my property taxes and home owners insurance out of my escrow and just doing it on my own, since I can at least get interest on the money.  I have a baby coming in the next few weeks, so I have been saving for that for a while.

    • DebtRoundUp,

      Congratulations on the baby! My wife and I just found out we are having twins. A total shock to say the least!

      Is your new baby savings for day to day expenses or college fund? I would be curious to see how you figured on how much to set aside each month.

  39. Those are all great savings goals! What about saving up for vacations? We have a fund that we call a “Travel” fund where we put money in order to have cash to pay for vacations every year. This year we were able to go to Hong Kong and Singapore all thanks to having a plan and putting money into a savings account designated for vacations.