It is time to follow through on those New Year’s Resolutions and one of them is probably watching your finances. Here are some ideas to help you save to be better prepared for the future.
* Identify your savings goals. Have you ever heard that expression, “If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time?” I know it is a bit cliché, but when it comes to savings plans, it is true. Those who find the most success saving money do so because they are committed to a plan–they have a goal in mind. It could be a down payment on a home, an emergency fund, a new car, a sunny day fund, or even as far out as retirement. Most plans are a combination of both short and long-term plans.
* Consider a savings account. I have never been a saver. I like to save money, and I whole-heartedly agree with the importance of saving money, but every time I begin to amass some savings, something happens that wipes me out. I opened a savings account and began moving just $25 a paycheck into an account. I have since opened four more accounts with specific savings goals and put a little in each account out of my paychecks. The money is still accessible, but it is far enough away that it is “out of sight, out of mind.”
* Sign up for direct deposit. I mentioned that I automated the transfer of money from my checking account to my savings account. To take that a step further; visit your payroll office and ask if you can split your deposit into two separate accounts. Most employers allow you to identify a percentage of your check to go into a primary checking account, and the remaining percentage to go into a second checking or savings account.
* Start small, and slowly increase the amount you save. Whether you decide to use direct deposit, automated transfers, or manually write out a check each month, start with a small amount to get used to the idea. Elect to have 1% of your pay diverted to savings, or move $25 a paycheck to your savings account. Trust me, you are not likely to miss these small amounts, and if you are like me, you probably used to spend this on eating out each paycheck cycle. Now I just brown bag lunch and pocket the savings.
Once you are comfortable with your established system of saving money you can graduate to more advanced concepts.
* Pocket your store savings. It goes without saying that to be in position to save money; you must first reduce your expenditures. One way to flip the switch is to pass on something you would normally buy in the store and pocket those savings immediately. For instance, the other day I was looking at video games and saw a new one that looked like fun. It was $49.99. The old me would have tossed the game in the shopping cart and moved on without much thought. The new me put the game back on the shelf, made a mental note of how much it cost, and went home and scheduled a $50 transfer from my checking account to my savings account.
* Keep gifts as far away from your checking account as possible. If you are lucky enough to receive small gifts, such as birthday money, tax refunds, money from the sale of items on eBay, etc, be sure to put that money directly in your savings account. If it finds its way into your checking account, it will likely be wasted away.
* Save one-dollar bills. Most dedicated savers have a coin jar at home where they dump change. Consider adding dollar bills to the jar and when you empty the jar be sure it goes directing into your savings account!
Hopefully these ideas will be put to good use for you. The biggest point that cannot be emphasized enough is to start TODAY! Come on by and open a savings account if you do not already have one and be well on your way to a more stable financial universe.
Savings Plan Takeaway
Open a savings account
Set aside an amount to place in that account regularly
Put your extra money in the savings account
Stick with it!