Saving money, like putting it away in the bank for a rainy day, or into our retirement funds, can just be, well, boring. Sure, we know we should be saving, but too often there is no satisfaction when we do, and we end up not making it a priority.
This Growing My Money Tree chart can change all that.
If there is one thing I've learned from making all the charts I have, is that humans loooove checking things off, we loooove winning a game, and we loooove the feeling of power we get when we reach a goal.
Tracking your goals visually, with a chart like this (or any of the other 100+ charts) gives you a mini dopamine (the feel-good hormone) hit with every piece you color in. It just feels good to color in your progress. And when it feels good, and you see the evidence of your effort, you naturally want to do it more. So you end up saving more money, faster, just so you can color in another piece sooner.
Why a Tree?
We've probably all heard the term "money doesn't grow on trees", but it kinda does, at least the idea that money grows on it's own when you invest.
So I came up with this idea for a Retirement Savings tracker, where the more money you plant before retirement, the bigger your money tree (retirement funds) will grow.
When making the tree, I tried clustering the leaves in groups of 25 for the milestones, but couldn't make it look organic, so I sacrificed the built in milestones on this one for the aesthetics of an organic form.
Once I had the concept well designed, I handed this one off to my favorite artist to create the final drawing.
It turned out so beautiful, that if you're anything like me, you'll want to use this progress chart for all kinds of savings goals, not just retirement.
It's so pretty you can even display it, either at work or at home, and inspire those in your life to reach for their money goals too. Who knows the kind of ripple effect you going after your goals will have on the people you love?
Imagine your kids looking for ways to save money instead of spend it just so they can color in a leaf! Imagine your spouse seeing evidence that saving money is working and your tree is growing! (I've heard many stories about how spouses finally see that the dream is possible because of a chart, and they get on board!)
Get the Growing My Money Tree.
My favorite thing about the money tree is that there is enough room to write in the amount that you are saving on each leaf! I am using this savings chart for my “tips” that I receive each week from my personal home cleaning business. I have started using a different color for each month and then make a new branch from the existing tree so that I know how much “extra” I made that month. - Jessica
So Many Options for Using this one!
This chart is very versatile. Here are three ideas for you (and I'm sure there are many more, if you come up with a unique way to use it, I'd love to hear about it!).
Classic Tracking Chart
Use it like a classic savings goal tracking chart by determining your goal amount and dividing by 100 to get the amount each leaf represents, and color in a leaf each time you put that much into savings for your goal.
Use it as a goal tracker like Alisha, where she is coloring one leaf for each day she doesn't eat out and celebrating reaching 100 with a reward. Unlike tracking on a calendar that reminds you of how many times you missed the goal of not eating out, the beauty of using it like this is that you are coloring in your successes, your wins. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to reach the goal, you will reach it if you keep doing it.
Surprise Savings Challenge
A great third way to use this chart comes from Sarah C, who wrote her plan out in the review she posted. She's assigning different colors to $1, $5, $10 & $20 bills, and each time she saves a little out of her cash envelopes and puts into her savings envelope, she will color in leaves according to what bills she's stashed. This is a fun way to make a pretty picture of your savings, and see the evidence of your savings, but also be surprised by the total amount saved at the end. When the tree is full, she will transfer that money to whatever sinking fund or cash flowed expense is most important at the moment. Using it this way means the total will be anywhere from $100 to $2000! Sounds like a fun plan!
So many options! I'm in a very fall mood right now, and I also like to stash cash amounts without worrying too much about the total, and this chart works perfectly for both purposes. I chose a different fall-like color (or for spring or summer, shades of green) for 1s, 5s, 10s, and 20s, and whichever amount I manage to slip into the safe, I color a leaf in the corresponding color. So I end up with a colorful tree and a way to track how much cash I have, but it's also not obvious. When the tree is full, I'll have a very nice addition to whichever sinking fund or cash-flowed expense needs it most! - Sarah C
Some other FUN features & ideas
The leaves are big enough to write in the total balance saved (or the amount for that leaf if using Sarah C's Surprise Savings Challenge method)
You can color the leaves for the seasons. All pink for spring representing flowers. Lime green for spring. Summer green. All variants of fall colors like yellow/orange/red, and even dark evergreen for winter.
Pre-color just the outlines of the leaves using a different color for four sections of 25 leaves for your milestones (so you can see at a glance how close you are to being 25%, 50% or 75% done) then fill them in entirely as you make progress
Use a different color each month to see at a glace your monthly progress for big goal amounts.
Pretty enough to display and inspire others to make financial goals too.
Great for all ages, kids can use for savings goals too, or simply as a coloring page.
Thank you so much for these charts!!! I'm loving the Money Tree Debt Free Chart!!! Coloring in the leaves has become very exciting and motivating, I am looking forward to seeing the tree with all it's beautiful leaves colored in!!! - Amy Krause-Lisiecki
The chart is an 8.5x11" high resolution PDF file, that you can download right away and print easily.
If you'd like to print at a different size (like to fit inside your planner), see this blog post for how to do that.
So there you go! Get your Money Tree chart HERE
Pin it for later!
When Heidi and her husband Bob were getting out from under a mountain of debt, she wanted something to help her see her progress visually. She created her first chart for herself and shared it in a forum (pre-social media) and she was thrilled to learn the charts helped other people stay motivated too. She is most known for creating over 50 totally free charts for getting out of debt, and so far over 150,000 people in 143 countries around the world have used her charts, impacting more people than she ever dreamed. To read more about that map, click here.