Savings Strategies from a Recovering Spender

It’s 2019 and if you’re like many Americans, your resolution might be to save more money this year. It might sound like an impossible task—and a year ago I would have agreed. You get paid and somehow the money is gone long before your next payday. Here are some tips that helped me get out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle.

1. Set Goals

    Figure out what you want to save for. Whether you’re wanting to save to buy a house, go on a trip, or just want an extra cushion for emergencies, everyone could benefit from setting aside money on a regular basis. Start with small goals that build to a larger goal and put time frames in place for when you would like to reach those goals. Having a specific goal in mind can be a great motivator when you’re at the mall debating whether buying that expensive outfit is worth only being able to eat ramen noodles on your vacation.

2. Find out where your money goes and make a budget.

    Do you know how much money you spend on different bills each month? While things like your rent/mortgage or cell phone bill might be around the same amount per month, how much is your electric bill on average? What about expenses that aren’t actual bills like groceries or eating out? Maybe you’re spending $800 a month on eating out without even realizing it. That sounds like an insane amount until you sit down and do the math and realize (like I did) that you’re literally eating most of your money. From here you can make a budget and allocate set amounts for different categories so that when you spend your eating out budget for the month you don’t start dipping into bill money without realizing it.

3. Commit to saving money on a regular basis.

    Something that helped me get on track was thinking of my savings account as another bill. It is a non-negotiable payment—to myself. Find out how much you can afford to put away each payday and when that direct deposit hits, move that amount to your savings. Moving the money to another account, preferably one that isn’t as easily accessible, will make it harder for you to spend what you’re supposed to be saving. Be careful though, seeing that savings balance go up gets addicting!

The author of this article has a certification as Credit Union Financial Counselor designated by the Credit Union National Association.

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