Time to Save
Saving is a mindset. Like exercise and eating healthy, saving is difficult at first but can become part of your daily routine. Here are some strategies and activities to help you build your savings for the future.
Develop a clear understanding of why you want to save. For instance, if you are “saving for a rainy day” by building an emergency fund valued of 3-6 months’ worth of your expenditures, you really don’t want an account sitting in the bank—you want to know that you won’t need to rely on credit cards in the event of an emergency. Your goal is financial security, not a bank account. The bank account is the tool you are using to get there. Knowing the “why” behind your goals gives you incentive to stick to your plan.
Be specific with your goals. Determine how much money you will need to complete your goal, how much you can save from each paycheck, and when this goal can reasonably be accomplished. Sometimes, the end date of a goal is non-negotiable. In this case, you determine how much savings you need and work the process backwards—how much you need divided by the number of months you have equals the amount you must save each month. What cuts, if any, will you need to make in your budget to accomplish that goal?
Too often, individuals set too many goals, limiting the amount of money that can be allocated to any single one. Having too many goals is often worse than having none. You’re likely to end up frustrated and abandon the process entirely because you feel that you’re never making enough progress. Cut your list of goals to something manageable, perhaps a primary short-term goal and one secondary, long-term goal.
HOMEBANK’s online banking has a goal-setting section right on the front page. There are goals you can choose from—such as paying off a credit card or saving for a wedding —or you can add your own. You determine the dollar amount of your goal and the date the goal is to be accomplished. The system will track your progress and show a simple-to-read report each time you login, always keeping your savings goals in the forefront of your mind.
Many successful savers will tell you that “if you don’t see the money, you won’t spend it.” Ask your employer if they can split your paycheck and send a certain amount to your savings account instead of depositing all of it into your regular checking account. If that is not possible, set up an automatic transfer between your accounts on the day you get paid.
Start with a small amount. Saving a lesser amount at a higher frequency is preferable to a larger amount once a month that may leave you short before your next paycheck. If you find you can afford to increase the amount after a few months, go for it! Often, you’ll find that you can make adjustments in your budget to live only on the smaller checking account deposit…because you never saw the full amount.
When saving, even pennies count. Many people put their extra change into a jar at the end of the day and then “cash in” when the jar is full. While that method is certainly proven, you really don’t have any idea of how much you have saved or if you are close to your goal. A modern electronic approach is HOMEBANK’s Round Up Savings program that automatically rounds up your debit card purchase price to the nearest dollar and then deposits those pennies into your savings account. It doesn’t sound like much, and you almost don’t even realize you’re saving, but that change really adds up over the course of a year, and you actually know how much you are saving.
When you earn an extra bonus, get a tax refund, or receive an unexpected amount of money, it’s tempting to think about all the things you want to buy. All too often, we hear of lottery winners who have run out of huge amounts of money and really don’t have anything to show for it. Experts at HOMEBANK suggest that you put those extra dollars into savings for a couple weeks to give you time to plan for its use. By pausing a moment and seeing the larger totals in your savings account, you can experience the thrill that comes with being that much closer to your savings goal, making you less likely to want to spend it.
Getting a pay raise following your annual review? Adjust your monthly savings deposit accordingly. Even putting only a portion of your raise into savings each month is an easy way to make great progress toward the completion of your goal.
If you are disciplined enough to master this habit once, you should never allow yourself to fall out of the saving routine. As you near completion of one savings goal, look for another.