Personal finance experts are pushing for consumers to understand the importance of saving more and spending less. It may appear to be a simple concept to incorporate into your life, but consumers tend to find that saving isn’t always easy at it seems.
For one, many consumers work hard just to make ends meet and do not always have money to put into their savings – or at least that is the excuse they use when their savings accounts lack funds.
If you want to see your personal financials change, you have to be willing to make changes too. Start by refocusing your money management methods on ways to start saving more money. Here are some simple tips to get you on the road to stronger savings:
1. Create a visual
It’s great to have good intentions when it comes to better money management but if you expect to actually make a change in your financial life, you have to actually follow through on those intentions. The first place to start when pursuing better savings strategies is to create a written visual for yourself which will remind and motivate you to stay on course.
Create a list of savings goals for both the short and long-term; noting ways you plan to achieve those goals. As each goal is reached, continue setting new goals for yourself with the ultimate challenge of exceeding your overall savings goals. Place the list somewhere you will see it regularly so you’ll be more empowered to make the necessary changes that equal more money in the bank. Thanks to the advent of personal financial management tools, you can evaluate your entire financial situation on a regular basis.
2. Compare other bank offerings
If you have been with your bank for a long time, chances are you are comfortable and haven’t considered the actual impact your present bank accounts have on your financial life. As stricter financial regulations keep pressure on bank revenue, consumers are ultimately paying the price with more fees, higher charges and lower savings and CD rates. If you haven’t checked out what other banks are offering, it’s time to start doing some research.
Find a bank that offers a better savings rate. Find a bank that still offers free checking accounts and other services so you can cut down on your overall banking expenses.
Banking is a competitive business so if you are willing to invest the time into finding the right one for you, you can free up more cash to add to your savings goals.
3. Pay yourself first
You have to leave the mindset that you don’t have enough money left over at the end of the month to save, and put your own savings first. Instead of waiting until last to contribute to your savings accounts and retirement funds, you should be paying yourself first and everyone else second.
Start by depositing at least 10% of your income into your savings accounts before you do anything else. Automate these deposits if possible so you don’t even touch the money as it comes in. Let your savings continue to build and as you get your financials back in order, aim to contribute a higher percentage of income towards your savings goals, including retirement.
4. Trim regular expenses
The money you spend every day can often be much more than you realize. For this reason, it would be helpful to track every single penny you spend over the course of a month. (Again, PFM tools come in handy here.)
With this information, you can start making spending cuts to the daily expenses you incur. Your regular expenses can then be reduced or eliminated by using various methods such as clipping more coupons before grocery shopping, eating meals at hom, and staying out of the stores unless you actually need something. Impulse buying can amount to a significant expense, when that money is better used to establish a decent nest egg.
5. Make sacrifices
In order to accomplish your savings goals, you will undoubtedly need to make sacrifices which are not exactly pleasant. For those who are struggling with debt and have no savings, the sacrifices will be greater.
You may need to stop all services in your home that are not absolutely necessary including cable, Internet and high-end cell phone services, so that more of your income can go towards debt relief. You may even need to take on a second job so the supplemental income can help eliminate debt and bulk up your savings. While not all of these sacrifices have to be permanent, you likely have to continue on until you are meeting your ongoing financial goals.
Saving money should be a priority for every consumer, especially at the threat of the nation’s economy and high unemployment rates are still fresh in everyone’s minds. It is important to refocus your money moves now so you will be building a better financial future for yourself and your whole family. It will never be easy but it will certainly be worth your time and effort.