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How to keep your savings goals on track

Your Child Trust Fund or Junior ISA has been building for years, but without a plan it can be far too easy for it to disappear quickly.

It's easy to think of your Child Trust Fund or Junior ISA as "free money", but money is money. The same money you work for, the same money your family work for, and may have even deposited in your child savings account.

It can be difficult to really picture how much the money in your Child Trust Fund or Junior ISA is worth. Use our CTF value calculator to find out how long it would take you to save up this amount of money.

Have a go and see if you're surprised!

Has it made you feel more protective of your money? Our guide below is designed to help you build on your savings and to use that money to create opportunities for yourself.

Getting into the savings habit

The first step to making saving a habit is getting your spending under control. That way you can work out how much you can reasonably save and find ways to keep your costs down to free up more money to put away.

If you don’t pay attention to your spending, it can be almost impossible to save.

Step 1. Create a budget

In order to work out where your savings can be made, you first need to understand:

Your essential expenses

This is things like rent, food, travel and bills. Things that you have to pay regularly and can't be missed from your budget.

Where the rest of your money goes

Understanding what else you've been spending your money on, such as shopping and subscriptions.

The first is easy, just add together all those essential expenses.

To work out the second, take a look at your banking app and work out where your money is going. You might already start to see areas where you could get your spending down.

Then get it all down on paper. There are budgeting apps you can use or you could simply list everything in a spreadsheet or even a word document.

Tip

Try to categorise your spending by type, for example travel, clothes, pet care, eating out. Some banking apps help you do this but you could always make a spreadsheet or even just use a notepad and pen. You'll soon see where your money goes!

Step 2. Identify how you can save money

You should now have a good overview of where your money goes.

Now you can step back and work out how you can increase the amount of money you have available to save.

How much you can save depends on your lifestyle and what you’re willing to live without. Sometimes we're not aware of how much money we spend on unnecessary or overpriced things.

Making a slight change, like making coffee at home instead of buying it on the way to college, can give you potential savings that soon mount up.

Look at the table below to see how making your own coffee, preparing your own lunch, cutting back on takeaways and cancelling subscription services could save you well over £3,000 a year.

Expenses Weekly Monthly Yearly
Three coffees a week £12 - £624
Can of soft drink a day £7 - £364
One takeaway a week £15 - £780
Bought lunch five times a week £25 - £1,300
Netflix (standard) - £10.99 £131.88
Spotify - £10.99 £131.88
Amazon Prime (student) - £4.49 £53.88
Total £3,385.64

Step 3. Decide how much you can reasonably save and stick to it

Compare your income with your outgoings. If you have more money coming in than you're spending then that's great! That extra money can go straight into your savings account.

However, many of us will need to take steps to keep our willpower in check when it comes to saving.

If you're not saving as much as you'd like or you spend everything you earn, are there any non-essentials that you can strip out of your budget? Or could you increase your income with another job or side hustle?

If you know you want to save £200 a month, then try listing this with your essential spending and structure your budget around it.

Tip

Once you’ve worked out how much you can afford to save each month, use our calculator to work out how long it would take you to save up the value of your Child Trust Fund.

Step 4. Start saving for your future

Your Child Trust Fund or Junior ISA has been invested for a long time now. It’s important to think carefully about what you'd like to do with it.

Broadly speaking, if you want to keep growing your money, you can choose to put it in a savings "cash" account or an investment account.

Money in a savings account will grow with interest, like a current account does. You'll often get higher interest rates if you commit to saving for longer.

Investing typically means paying your money into an investment fund along with other investors' money. The investment fund is used to buy various different types of investments: things like shares in companies, property and corporate and government bonds.

Your money increases or decreases as the value of those assets changes. When you want to withdraw your money, you'll "sell" your shares at their current price.

Investing is more risky than saving, in that you could potentially get back less than you pay in but there is a higher potential to make money. In fact, In every 5-year period between 2000 and 2021, stocks and shares have out-grown interest rates.* There's no risk of you losing money if you choose a savings account, but you could find that how much things cost increases (inflation) higher than interest rates which would mean your money can buy less in the future.

If you'd like to find out more about investing, take a look at our Stocks and Shares ISA and Lifetime ISA, which both invest in stocks and shares on your behalf.

Whatever you decide to do with your money it’s a good idea to speak with your parents, guardians or other trusted adults about it.

Tip

The best thing to do with your savings depends on your circumstances, your attitude towards risk and what you're hoping to achieve.

*Source: Barclays GILT study 2023.

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