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How to manage multiple savings goals

Are you looking to build your retirement savings, grow an emergency fund, and plan a family getaway? Saving when you have multiple goals and timelines doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow these easy steps to manage multiple savings goals:

Get Organized: Set SMART goals

Start with a list of your short and long term savings goals. Once you’ve created the list, set priorities for each of your goals based on their importance and when you’ll need the funds available. For each of the goals you’ve identified, try to describe it using SMART* criteria for goal setting. Once you’ve defined your SMART goals, you’ll be able to take a step back and decide which goals are your highest priority. Your goals should be:

S: Specific: What are you saving for?
M: Measurable: How do you know when you have enough?
A: Attainable: Given your current financial situation, is this goal within reach?
R: Relevant: Does this goal match your overall vision for the future? The answer is simple for some goals, such as retirement planning. Other goals might need a bit more thought to decide how relevant they are.
T: Time Bound: Goal setting works best when you have a deadline.

Then, work back from your closest deadline

Start with the savings goal you’ll need to reach first and simply calculate how much you need to save every month to reach that particular goal. Then, take a moment to consider how saving to reach your first goal will impact your other savings objectives. Are you able to reach each goal without compromising the others? You may have to do some number crunching to decide on a percentage of savings that will help you reach all of your goals.

Based on these numbers, you can decide what percentage of your total savings you can allocate into your various savings goals.

Here’s an example:

Julie is able to set aside $450 per month for savings, in addition to her employer-matched RRSP / pension contributions. Her savings goals include building an emergency fund, setting money aside for her daughter’s education, and she’s looking to take a vacation with her family within the next two years.

She decides that her emergency fund is one of the highest priorities and will set aside 40% of her savings for this goal. An additional 33% will be used to save for her daughter’s education. That leaves about 27% of her monthly savings to set aside for a vacation.

Using this ratio, here’s what Julie is able to set aside:

 Type of Goal

Savings Percent
(of $450 monthly)

Dollar Amount Saved 

Savings Goal

Saving Duration 
(time to goal)

Approx. Amount Saved 
(2.55% interest*)

Emergency Fund




5 years

$11,505 in 5 years

Education Planning




13 years

$27,710 in 13 years





2 years

$2,951 in 2 years


* Example is based on 2.55% interest compounded annually on December 31. Rates are subject to change. Actual interest earned will vary according to rates.

Preauthorized debits let you save without thinking

Once you’ve taken care of the math relating to your goals, the next step is the easiest! Set up preauthorized debits to transfer funds automatically from your chequing account directly to your savings account. You can compile all of your savings into a single account, or you can create multiple savings accounts for each of your goals. Through online banking, you can rename each of your accounts to match the intended purpose, making saving for your goals even easier.  

When you are setting up preauthorized debits, consider different product offerings that match your goals. For instance, your retirement savings might be best transferred directly into a TFSA or RRSP. When you are ready, consider scheduling a meeting with a Member Service Representative. We can help you set up your various savings accounts and determine which products best match your goals.

Consider utilizing a mix of deposit and investment products to reach your goals

Learn more about SCU's great saving options. Here are just a few:

High Interest Savings Account: Maximize your savings with SCU's High Interest Savings Account (HISA), our  highest earning savings account.

GICs: Opening a GIC is a great low-risk investment option that provides a guaranteed rate of return, and is a secure and reliable way to grow your wealth over time. 

TFSAs: Choosing a TFSA is a smart choice as it's a flexible savings option that allows you to earn income on your investment — tax-free helping you acheive your financial goals.

Keeping momentum

Once you’ve set up your preauthorized debits, you can now rest easy knowing that you are actively working toward your future. Once you reach your first goal, it’s a great idea to revisit your savings plans. Is there something new on the horizon that you’ll want to be saving for? Or, can you reallocate your transfers to support the next goal on your list.


Get started today by trying out our savings calculator to see how much more you could be saving:

SMART criteria for goal setting was first introduced in management coaching in 1981 (Source: Doran, GT (1981). “There’s a S.M.A.R.T way to write management’s goals and objectives”. Management Review.

Disclaimer: This article uses rates that were current at the time of publishing. Rates are subject to change. Everyone’s saving situation is unique – and there are many strategies that work for different circumstances. The advice in this article is meant to provide general information only, and does not constitute financial, accounting, tax, legal, or other professional advice. We encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding your unique savings needs and goals.

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