Change your financial future
Resolve to Stash More Cash This Year
by Shari Smith
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Some people are born savers. They prudently put aside a portion of each paycheck. Others can't seem to save at all and are often reduced to living paycheck to paycheck. According to Forbes.com, the national average saving is only at 4%, well below the 10%-15% that is typically recommended.
There is a happy medium. Anyone with the desire to improve his or her finances can become a saver, no matter what income level you are at. It is a deceptively simple formula: spend less than you earn. Easier said than done, but here is a closer look at why savings are so important.
- You want to retire someday, right? Well, those years of leisure will be much more comfortable if you plan ahead and save money for that day.
- Stuck in a crummy job? Invest in your future by taking some online courses, enrolling in college, or becoming an intern at a place you'd love to work.
- Oh no! The car broke down again. Or the fridge is on the fritz. Or the roof is leaking. Something is going to happen. Before a relatively minor mishap turns into a major financial disaster, build an emergency fund for those unexpected potholes in the road of life.
- Escape to a tropical paradise. Plan for your dream vacation and someday you'll be lounging on the beach. Even if you only save a tiny amount each month, your dream fund will grow.
- Plan ahead. Your son is suddenly taller than you. Pretty soon he'll need some money for a car, college, or maybe an apartment. If you start saving when your kids are young, you will have a tidy sum by the time it is time to cut the apron strings.
- You've just been offered the opportunity of a lifetime. Be ready when that door opens by having some ready cash to finance your future.
- You had to borrow money from Mom to pay the rent again. Wipe out those feelings of guilt and shame by taking control of your finances. You'll be free and independent when you can rely on a savings fund.
- Have no more sleepless nights. What if your company suddenly went bankrupt? What if your home was flooded? What if your rent or adjustable mortgage payments go sky high? Keep these what-ifs at bay with your emergency fund.
Hopefully, I've sold you on the benefits of a savings fund. How do you start, though? The first step is to get in touch with your current situation. Find out exactly where your money is going. The easiest way to do this is to keep a money journal for at least a month. Write down all expenditures and keep track of every penny. Or use some of the great free apps available for your smartphone, pc, or other devices.
Mint.com is an all-inclusive site that helps with money management, budgeting, updating accounts, advice, and keeping track of your credit score with free apps. The site DailyWorth.com recommends several free apps, including Expensify, which offers smart scan, adding expenses, tracking time, and tracking distance. Another free app that uses the envelope system is Goodbudget. It is a great tool for personal budgeting.
No matter how you track your money, a budget should fall into place with the bills and regular expenses like food and household items taking precedence over extras. But what if there is nothing left to save?
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The key to savings is to pay yourself first. Aim for 10% of your take-home income, but any amount is better than nothing. Start a savings account if you don't have one already. You can easily set up an automatic deposit before you get your check and will probably not even miss that little bit.
Remember the basic rule of saving? Spend less than you earn. If you can't cut expenses any more, you must increase your income. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Use coupons and deposit what you saved. Save up coins and cash them in every few months. Take on a second job doing something you love, like babysitting, delivering the paper, being a substitute playground monitor at your child's school, working part time in a store you enjoy, or selling fun items at home parties.
Once you start to build a savings fund, you will be amazed at how fast it grows. Having that cushion increases your peace of mind, which is priceless. It feels great knowing that you are capable of controlling unexpected expenses. Resolve to stash more cash this new year and enjoy the rewards of saving.
Take the Next Step:
- Learn more smart strategies for building your savings by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
- Start a high yield savings account with Discover Bank.
- Get control of your financial life. Subscribe to Financial Independence, a free daily email that provides you with the tools to help you gain that control and achieve financial independence. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist for FREE!
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