Determined to save more in 2017? Here are 10 tips to help you do just that.
1. Set a savings goal
It’s your favorite kind of New Year’s resolution — one about money. But it is easier to achieve than one about weight, if you give yourself a reasonable goal.
Think of a specific purchase or benchmark — you could realistically reach in 12 months. Impose a little self-discipline and sacrifice, but don’t drive yourself to eat Ramen noodles three times a week to make the goal.
Find a friend or family member who can help hold you accountable, or set up a recurring alert on your phone for an everyday reminder.
2. Remove temptation
So now you’ve got a little money – what do you do with it? The easiest thing is to sock it in a savings account.
If you’re adding to it via direct deposit, try opening it at a different bank, so it’s not easily accessible by your day-to-day accounts. It’s another way to remove the temptation to easily spend.
3. Choose an account wisely
Savings accounts can vary widely when it comes to interest, fees and minimum balances. While the interest rate might sound minimal at first, it adds up. And every little bit counts when you’re saving toward a specific goal.
If you want to avoid fees, look into some of your local credit unions, which can have more favorable terms. Check out online banks too; online savings accounts sometimes have higher interest rates.
4. Build an emergency fund
One thing that regularly pillages savings accounts are emergencies. They don’t have to be big emergencies — a broken window, a flat tire — but when your savings are just getting started, it doesn’t take much to deflate it.
Try splitting your deposits into a savings account — which will be used for big purchases — and an emergency fund, which would help cover those pesky accidents. The recommended goal is have between four to seven months worth of expenses in your emergency fund, but don’t worry about that to start. Just start small and build.
5. Watch where your money goes
Not many people enjoy tracking their expenses, but it is one of the sacrifices that will help you make your savings goals.
Start with this: For one month, track every single purchase down to the cent. Learn exactly where your paycheck is going. You’ll feel more in control of your money, which is an important step of gaining the confidence to build savings.
6. Then organize where your money goes
Once you know where your money is going, you can draw up a realistic budget. This will help you cut out some of the unnecessary spending.
Don’t lock it down on first draft, though — give yourself room for experimentation and growth. If you really need a latte every day, find a different area to snip. Don’t cut all the fun stuff — that takes away the joy of life.
Budgeting will help you live within your means, grow your savings, and if done right, help you savor life.
7. Shopping — it’s not out of the question
Saving doesn’t mean not shopping — it means shopping smarter. Sign up for loyalty programs at your go-to stores, sign up for a warehouse club and buy in bulk, clip coupons when you can, and plan your shopping trips around sales and daily deals. Check out price-comparison websites to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
8. Take advantage of apps
There is, as they say, an app for everything. And there are more than a few for saving. There are apps for budgeting, the best local deals, saving for retirement — you name it.
9. Flexible spending accounts
Explore signing up for a flexible spending account where you work. FSAs are often offered by employers as a benefit. They can save you money on health care costs not covered by insurance, including copays and deductibles.
After enrolling, you decide how much you want to contribute for the year. That amount is then deducted from your salary over time before income tax. You use a credit card attached to the account to pay for certain eligible medical expenses, which are effectively discounted thanks to your tax savings.
Drawback: You must use up all of the funds within your benefits year.
10. Check in and reward yourself
Set aside a few minutes every week to take a look at your finances — quiet Sunday mornings are good — and see how you are doing with your budget.
Don’t penalize yourself for wandering off track, but recognize that it happened and move back in the right direction.
And when you hit a goal or benchmark, give yourself room to celebrate! You’ve earned it.