So often we are bombarded with messages regarding finances, such as, “Save 20 percent of your income,” “Make sure you have a minimum of $1,000 in your emergency fund,” “You should save and invest!” The list goes on and on, from financial gurus to your neighbors’ advice; sometimes misinformation never ends. Everyone has an opinion on how to maximize your savings, but which is the right way?
Just as there are multiple routes to a destination, there are many acceptable ways to save money. The difference really comes down to the circumstances of the individual. A single individual making $100,000 a year and living with roommates will have a starkly different savings strategy than a couple making the same amount of money but with a mortgage, student loans, and children. Baring that in mind, let’s look at three steps that will help you save more in 2021.
Check your expenses:
Every structure needs a foundation. To make sure you are financially sound, a budget is needed. A budget helps you to clearly see how much money is flowing in and out of your household. Many people are surprised at the amount of money that goes to miscellaneous spending. Having a detailed budget, one that accounts for more than just food, housing, utilities, and gas, will allow you to better manage your money, address debt, and reach different financial goals (e.g. saving).
Select a specific goal:
Saving is great, but if you aren’t saving with a goal in mind, chances are it will be hard to put something aside regularly. There are a number of goals that fall within the saving realm. Some may include the following:
- Emergency funds
- Short-term goals of less than 2 years (e.g. vacation, paying off a small debt)
- Long-term goals of 2 to 15 years (e.g. college, buying large ticket items in cash)
Whatever your goal may be, it is important to break goals down into smaller goals to keep your momentum. An example may be saving to buy a car with cash. Your ultimate goal is to save $10,000, but you will aim to save $850 a month. You get paid bi-weekly, so you will then put away $425 each paycheck for the next 12 months.
Pay your future self first:
You work hard for your money. Because you work hard, of course you deserve to treat yourself. Treating yourself is fine as long as you aren’t stealing from your future self. Most of what you buy today won’t do anything for you in the future. Paying yourself first is easy if you use automation. Every time you get money direct deposited, have your account send a predetermined amount over to your savings account. You won’t miss it.
Lastly, I recommended that you look into putting your money in a high-yield savings account. The standard savings account will give you a return of 0.01 percent to 0.09 percent. Most high-yield savings accounts are hovering around 0.50 percent interest. Since your money will be sitting in your savings account for a while, why not give it an opportunity to make you a little more?
These three steps seem so simple, but, when applied to everyday finances, you will see the difference. Taking stock of your finances, setting reachable goals, and paying yourself first will have you on the way to saving more than you thought you could. You will have less debt, you will no longer be blindsided by car repair expenses, and your future self will thank you.