We've discussed using the popular "snowflake" method to whittle down debt, but the same principle can be applied to making big purchases. Learn to put away small, seemingly forgettable micro-payments, and you won't have to shoulder all the costs at once.
Photo by Tom Small.
Snowflaking is the discipline of applying small, unexpected gains in cash (from selling something on eBay to finding $US20 in your couch) to your debt, rather than in your wallet, thus slowly chipping away at the total amount you owe. Personal finance blog The Simple Dollar suggests it can work just as well in the opposite direction, when you're saving up for something.
Whether you're saving up for a new home or that Blu-Ray player you've been itching to get, applying any saved or unexpected gains in money to that goal moves you in that direction without messing up your regular cashflow. There are a number of variations to this method, too, from motivational goals (adding to your "goal fund" every time you follow through on doing something good, like exercising) to splitting up your snowflaking between different goals (adding money gained in different ways to different goals' funds). Hit the link for the full explanation, and if you have any experience with this type of saving, make us all jealous with what you bought or paid for in the comments.
Snowflaking and Goals [The Simple Dollar]