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.