some housecleaning for the holidays? Don’t forget to
spruce up your savings, too.
these savings tips to get your finances in order.
a realistic savings goal. It should be measurable,
realistic and timely. You might feel ambitious and set a
super-high goal, but you’d likely be setting yourself
up for failure.
deciding on a savings goal, think of a specific purchase
or benchmark you could realistically reach in 12 months.
The goal should require self-discipline and a little
sacrifice when it comes to spending), but you shouldn’t
find a friend or family member who can hold you
accountable, or write down the goal in a place where you’ll
see it every day.
Be picky about where you keep your savings. Savings
accounts vary widely in interest paid, fees and minimum
balances, so do your research and find the one that’s
right for you. Consider extra costs such as monthly
service charges and ATM fees.
interest rate might sound minimal at first, but it adds
up. Every little bit counts when you’re saving toward
a specific goal. Check out online banks, too, as online
savings accounts sometimes have higher interest rates.
You might not have the discipline to set aside part of
your paycheck for savings. So make your contributions
automatic. Banks often offer free services that will
transfer a fixed amount of money from your checking
account to your savings account every month.
ask your human resources department if you can
direct-deposit a percentage of your paycheck every month
into a savings account.
Set up a fund just for emergencies. Although your
savings account might double as a rainy-day fund, if you’re
savvy about saving you’ll have a fund dedicated solely
to emergencies. Your savings account might be for big
expenditures — like a down payment on a house or a car
— but you should not touch the money in your emergency
fund unless there’s an actual emergency. If you lose
your job or have to go to the hospital, you’ll have
something to fall back on without having to sacrifice
the big purchase you’ve been saving for.
an emergency fund should have enough to cover four to
seven months’ worth of expenses. Experts recommend
starting your fund with small goals, such as saving
$1,000, and then working your way up.
For one month, track every penny you spend. You’ll
learn exactly where your paycheck is going and where you’re
might realize, for example, that you’re spending an
obscene amount on coffee every week. Once you’re aware
of that, you can limit your coffee-shop stops and put
the rest of that money into savings.
Once you know your spending habits, you can create a
realistic budget. Budgeting will help you save by
helping you cut frivolous spending. It might be a
trial-and-error process until you figure out what works
best for your lifestyle.
don’t have to cut out all of the fun stuff, but you do
need to pay your bills on time and eventually meet your
Be a savvy shopper. A few ideas:
up rewards by signing up for loyalty programs at your
up for a warehouse club and buy in bulk.
coupons when you can.
your shopping trips around sales and daily deals.
shopping online, check out price-comparison websites or
use browser plug-ins to make sure you’re getting the
best deal. Just because something is advertised as being
discounted doesn’t always mean it’s a good deal.
There’s an app for everything, whether you want to
order a car to pick you up or just want to socialize
with your friends. So why not use that technology to
become a better saver?
are many apps that help you budget, find the best local
deals and sell your old junk. This year, find one or two
apps that will help you save and use them regularly.
Explore signing up for a flexible spending account where
you work. FSAs are often offered by employers as part of
a benefits package, and they can save you money on
health care costs not covered by insurance, including
co-pays and deductibles.
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 withdraw money
from the account to pay for certain eligible medical
expenses, which are effectively discounted because of
your tax savings. But you must use up all the money
within your benefits year.
Regularly assess your progress. To save effectively, you
need to know exactly where you stand with your finances
each week. Make a "money date" with yourself
every Sunday and go through your transactions to ensure
you’re on track with your budget. If you fall off
track (maybe you spent too much one week or didn’t
sock away a penny from your paycheck), don’t give up.
Get back on track.
you hit savings goals, celebrate and reward yourself a
bit. Saving is all about moderation, not cutting out
shopping and spending completely.