Dreaming of a savings goal is almost always fun — a sunny vacation, the perfect home, a dazzling holiday gift. But think about how long it can take to get there and all that fun might fade away.

Even if you are doing the right things, such as cutting your expenses or taking a part-time job for extra income, it can be discouraging when the finish line is far away. Here’s how to stay motivated until you reach it.

Automate your savings. If you plan to save a little bit each month for the next year or so, you can simplify the process by setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings. You will be making deposits without extra effort.

To boost your savings even more with minimal effort, put your money into a high-yield savings account or certificate of deposit, which can earn 20 times more than a traditional savings account.

Celebrate small wins. Say you want to save $5,000, and you have set aside $500. That’s a reason to celebrate, said Joseph Polakovic, who owns a financial advisory firm in San Diego.

He said that when you have a large financial goal, it helps to see it as a series of smaller targets that are easier to meet. When you reach these milestones, celebrating them — with an inexpensive treat, for example — can help you stay motivated.

Look at the big picture. While you don’t want to be overwhelmed by how far away a goal seems, reminders of the goal itself can be helpful. You could print a photo that represents your goal and place it where you see it every day, such as on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror.

Take setbacks in stride. There will probably be stumbling blocks along the way, such as an unexpected $3,000 car-repair bill. If you do have a savings shortfall, there are options for getting back on track, including increasing your income.

Be accountable. Find a friend or family member whom you can update on your progress. Scott Perry of Raleigh, N.C., said he and his wife held each other accountable when they decided to pay off $60,000 in student loans early. They made a plan to live below their means and earn extra income with side hustles. When surprise money came their way, say from a gift or job bonus, they would use some of it to pay down loan principal, in addition to building up an emergency fund.

With a little time and patience, Perry said, they were able to cut their loan repayment period nearly in half, writing the last check a little more than five years after they started making payments.

Your savings goal can seem like a faraway dream. But keep plugging away and it can eventually become a reality.

E-mail: mburnette@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @Margarette.