Do you find yourself dipping into your savings when you overspend? Often times we use our savings account as if it’s a checking account, tapping into it regularly, which defeats the purpose! If you’re having a hard time breaking that habit, check out these 5 easy ways to save.
1. Save for a purpose. When I was first attempting to get in control of my finances, I knew I should have money saved as a cushion, but I was completely uninspired. It was sound advice, but I had no real reason to save in my 18 year old mind’s eye. That’s when I decided to align my actions with my goals. I absolutely love to travel- so I decided I would travel one place new every year. Most of the trips I take range between $400-$1000. So I figured the low end of that would be a good place to start. I started saving $50 a month in college and I cannot tell you proud of myself I was when I finally saved my first $400! It was the single highest amount I had ever saved on my own.
I wasn’t able to just save for the sake of savings, I needed a reason that mattered to me. Find something you love & save for it. Your passion is strong enough to provide you with discipline and inspiration.
2. Treat your ‘savings’ as if it were a bill. I absolutely hate owing money or paying a bill late. That’s why I work my savings into my budget as if it were a bill- one that I cannot afford to miss. It can be hard to pay yourself, but your goals truly are your biggest priority. So every other Friday (when I get paid) I have an automatic transfer to move $200 into my savings account. When I budget my bills and spending money I pretend that the $200 doesn’t even exist. It’s already been accounted for, so I can’t use. And technically it is a bill- one day it’ll go towards owning my first home.
3. Enlist a friend or community of people to hold you accountable. Sometimes we need other people envolved to help us meet our goals. I personally hate disappointing myself, but one thing I hate more- is disappointing the people I love or care about. This can take different forms depending on how open/social you are. You may have your best friend do monthly check ins or maybe you get everyone on your social media to root for you and cheer you on. Establish your goal and be open about your progress & challenges. You may be surprised at how the support helps you along.
4. Put any extra money into an account that’s harder to access. Stash it at separate bank or even open a brokerage account. You can give the money for your grandma to hold for you; I don’t care just get it somewhere safe that you wont tap into it! Out of sight, out of mind is a powerful way to save.
You will be much less tempted to dip into these accounts if you have to ask someone to access the money or sell stocks that you purchased. If I find that I overspent, and need a little extra cushion in my checking- I’d rather sell my clothes than my stocks (which I have actually done by the way).
5. Take advantage of a pre-tax account. This way your money will be saved and invested BEFORE you even notice it’s gone. If your job offers a 401(k) you can use that or you can start your own IRA (individual retirement account). Because the money will be taken from your paycheck before taxes, you’ll miss it much less. Assume you’re in the 15% tax bracket- you might invest $200 in pretax dollar but because taxes haven’t been taken it’ll only feel like $160.
A 401(k) and IRA are both retirements accounts, so keep in mind you wont be able to access this money, without penalty, until you’re 59 1/2. This is a great option once you are well on your way to have an emergency fund built up.
All these tips have something in common- they are about valuing YOUR goals and protecting your money (even if you’re protecting it from yourself). The earlier you vow to save and grow your money, the better you’re financial health. Make the commitment to yourself today. You deserve it.