How to Fit Big Dreams into a Small Budget

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Big dreams aren't just for people with deep pockets. Here's how to make big things happen on a small budget:

Define What You Want

Dreams tend to be kind of vague and abstract (i.e., I want to build a dream home, buy a farm, travel the world, retire early). Take some time to define what you want in as much detail as possible, so your dream becomes something real that you can begin to work towards. 

  • How big will your dream home be? What will it look like? How many bedrooms will it have? Where will it be located?
  • How many acres will your farm have? Will it have a pond? A barn? Livestock? A farmhouse? What equipment will you need to manage your farm?
  • Which countries will you travel to on your trip-round-the-world? How long will you be gone? Where will you stay? What kinds of things will you do along the way? Will you bring someone with you?
  • How old do you want to be when you retire? What will you do with your time? Where will you live?

Calculate the Cost

Once you have a clear picture of what you're working towards, do some research to figure out what it will cost to make it happen. Check real estate listings; visit travel websites; meet with a financial planner, or speak with people who have done the things that you want to do. Prices may change over time, but this will at least give you a jumping off point.

Give Yourself a Deadline

Big dreams tend to come with big price tags, but don't let that intimidate you. Decide how much time you're going to give yourself to realize your dream, so you can start formulating your plan of attack.

Set Savings Goals for Yourself

Once you've established a cost and a deadline, calculate how much you'll need to save each month to meet your goal. Then, find ways to make it happen. Go over your current budget, and look for things that you can cut — ditch your cable; skip eating out; go longer between haircuts. Be as ruthless as you need to be to find the money that you need. Big dreams are worth the sacrifice.

Still, need to find more money? Then, brainstorm ways to earn extra money. Working hard will just make you appreciate your dream even more.

Dream Shop

Think about what you'll need to realize your dream (besides money). Then, look for deals when you're out shopping. Yard sales and thrift stores are a great source of cheap building supplies, tools, and household furnishings. Anything you're able to scoop up at a discount will help you reach your goal faster.

Maintain Your Motivation

Review your progress regularly to maintain your enthusiasm. If you find yourself buying things you don't need, write your dream on a few labels, and stick one on each of your debit and credit cards. Seeing that goal at checkout will make you think twice about everything you stick up on the conveyor belt.

Need more to help you stay motivated? Then, dig deeper into the planning process. Tear out inspiration photos from magazines; create a pinboard on Pinterest to keep track of your ideas; take a class to pick up skills you'll need; check out books from the library. Give yourself permission to believe big things are possible. Then, go after your dreams hard.