You’ve just taken the America Saves Pledge, or perhaps you simply need some inspiration for ways to save your money -- either way, we’re glad you’re here. Buckle up! It’s about to get REAL around here as we share 54 ideas to save some dinero. Let’s dive in by first establishing some general savings ideas to get you #ThinkingLikeASaver.
General Savings Tips
1. An emergency fund is a must. Chances are you’ve already been told that you need an emergency fund somewhere in the ballpark of three to six months of your income. Yikes! Overwhelming, right? At America Saves, our motto is ‘Start Small. Think Big.’ In keeping with that, we recommend starting with an emergency fund savings goal of just $500.
2. Establish your budget. The best way to jumpstart establishing a budget is to realize your spending habits. On the first day of a new month, get a receipt for everything you purchase throughout the month. Stack the receipts into categories like restaurants, groceries, and personal care. At the end of the month you will be able to clearly see where your money is going. Additionally, your bank or credit union may have this as an online-banking feature. Seeing what you spend in total on food, shopping, etc. can be humbling!
3. Budget with cash and envelopes. If you have trouble with overspending, try the envelope budget system where you use a set amount of cash for most spending. And once the cash is gone, it's gone. Learn more about the envelope budget system here.
4. Don't just save money, save for your future. There IS a difference!. As you begin to #ThinkLikeASaver, don’t simply spend less. Save with a purpose, such as college expenses, retirement, or for emergencies.
If you’ve taken the America Saves pledge, you’ve already chosen a savings goal which means you’re ahead of the savings curve!
5. Save automatically. Setting up automatic savings is the easiest and most effective way to save, and it puts extra cash out of sight and out of mind. Automatic savings means you have a process in place to save at regular intervals, whether that’s monthly, weekly, or daily.
Instruct your employer to direct a certain amount from your paycheck each pay period and transfer it to a retirement or savings account (or both). Traditionally, you can set this up using your employer’s direct deposit, ask your HR representative for more details and set this up today.
If you don’t have an employer or maybe your sources of income vary, check out our other strategies to save automatically.
6. ‘Start Small. Think Big,’ with a short- term goal. The truth is, people save more successfully when they set a short-term goal. For instance, committing to saving $20 a week or a month for 6 months is much more attainable that setting a goal to save $500 a month for a year. Once you reach the short-term goal, you’ll have created a habit of saving you can be proud of! You’ll be able to keep going strong with a new goal.
7. Start saving for your retirement as early as possible. Few people get rich through their wages alone. It's the miracle of compound interest, or earning interest on your interest over many years, that builds wealth. Because time is on their side, the youngest workers are in the best position to save for retirement.
8. Take full advantage of employer matches to your retirement plan. Often as an incentive, employers will match a certain amount of what you save in a retirement plan such as a 401(k). If you don't take full advantage of this match, you're leaving money on the table.
9. Save your windfalls and tax refunds. Every time you receive a windfall, such a work bonus, inheritance, contest winnings, or tax refund, put a portion into your savings account.
10. Make a savings plan. Those with a savings plan are twice as likely to save successfully. That's where America Saves comes in. If you take the America Saves Pledge, we'll help you set a goal and make a plan. And it doesn’t stop there. America Saves will keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your savings goal. Think of us as your own personal support system.