I recently learned a great new way to save up for those things on your wishlist. Back in 2017, YNAB introduced the idea of a Wish Farm, and you better believe that I’m officially a Wish Farmer. What is a Wish Farm, how does it work, and how does it differ from a wish list?
What is a Wish Farm?
We all know what a wish list is – it’s a list of things you want. I think many of us started wish lists as letters to Santa. When it comes to saving for these wish list items, I have a section in my budget for “short term savings,” but I find that I never want to use it for my wish list items, because I feel like that money would be better used for one of our big house projects.
Then I was introduced to the idea of a wish farm. A wish farm is when you take one (or two or three) items from your wishlist and put a line in your budget to save up for those items. Let’s say I want to save up for a Nintendo Switch. That’s $300. Rather than just setting aside money in my savings every single month, I put a line item in my budget for “Nintendo Switch.” And of course, I’m not just going to throw $300 at it in a single month. But maybe I put aside $25 this month and $40 next month and I slowly save up. And if one month I don’t have the extra funds to put towards it, that’s okay. I can just start funding again the following month.
Why is it a Wish Farm and not just a Wish List?
Well, a list is just a list. A farm is where something grows. So items in your wish farm are items that you are actively funding (or watering) so that they have a chance to grow. Nothing grows all at once, and it will take some time before it’s ready to harvest.
Of course, when it’s time to spend the money, I don’t just keep that “Nintendo Switch” line item. That would make my budget a little unwieldy. Instead, I move the $300 to the appropriate category, then categorize the expense there. And I plant a new item in my farm.
But what’s the benefit?
By saving up for specific items using a wish farm rather than just saving aimlessly, I am better able to resist impulse purchases. I’m slowly setting aside money for a very specific thing. I may decide I no longer need or want that item before I’ve fully funded it. I can just reallocate the savings. Even when I don’t have much money to set aside one month, I can still slowly fund the budget category. Even $5 will help that savings amount grow.
I’ve been using a wish farm for a few months now and I’ve been really happy with it. I’m working on funding three things – a small, medium, and large purchase, and every month, I decide how much money I have to put towards growing my savings.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.