Teach Yourself How to Save Money
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While saving a percentage of every paycheck can help secure your future, sometimes, life gets in the way. But even if you didn’t start saving in your twenties, it’s never too late to develop a savings strategy. In addition to having an emergency backup, you’ll also help build a solid financial foundation for future needs such as a car, wedding, down payment on a house, family planning, and, eventually, your retirement.

Here are some tips to catch up on your savings goals:

Assess Your Current Financial Situation

Before implementing a savings strategy, it’s important to review your current financial situation. Online banking tools, like Regions My GreenInsights, help to pinpoint exactly where your money is going. You can see your information from other financial institutions, track where your money is going, and understand your monthly cash flow of income and expenses. Also, take time to review interest rates to determine your most costly bills. Look for ways to minimize debt while putting extra money aside for the future.

This type of review might bring up uncomfortable feelings about past spending and existing debt, but you can start fresh by setting new savings goals. “I tell people, ‘It’s OK. It may confirm that you haven’t been doing what you were supposed to be doing, but at least you have a measuring stick to figure out what you need to be doing now,’” says Katie Brewer, Certified Financial Planner and Owner of Your Richest Life in Dallas. Whether you’re hoping to build a retirement fund late in the game or build a nest egg for your next steps, set goals that you can work toward and use tools like savings calculators and budget planners to reach your goal.

Automate Your Savings

Once you’ve determined your savings goals, there are simple ways to get started and save on a consistent basis:

  • Set aside a goal amount each month for your emergency savings account. Depending on your savings goal, determine how aggressively you need to save to reach your target.
  • Contribute a percentage of your income into an employer-sponsored retirement plan. If your company matches your contribution, consider allocating the maximum percentage for the match so you don’t miss out on retirement money your employer will put in for you.
  • Automate transfers to your savings account from every paycheck.
  • Consider using mobile apps that help you save by automatically setting aside a certain amount of money. Some apps, such as Tip Yourself, are free, while others, such as Digit, have a small monthly fee.

As you build your savings account, consider increasing your automated contribution percentage every six months, if you are able.

Boost Your Income

As your career progresses, add a percentage of any salary increases or bonuses that you receive toward your savings. Don’t shy away from negotiating promotions and raises — even 1 to 2 percent raises add up over the course of a career, Brewer says. Practice negotiation strategies to prepare for a conversation with your boss.

Streamline Expenses

Your expenses fluctuate at each stage in life, so tracking and reorganizing your expenses can help you boost your savings account, as well. For example, if a child who was in day care is now starting school, you may be able to use those previous costs to boost your savings strategy, Brewer says.

Some financial accounts and credit cards allow you to organize your spending by category. So if you see you’re spending a significant amount of money dining out, you might be better off creating a grocery budget and doing weekly meal prep.

Look for other ways to cut back on current bills, but don’t try to do it all at once. Focus on one bill at a time — like finding a better cellphone plan or renegotiating your cable bill. You may even consider cutting the cord and eliminating cable altogether. Next, set a budget for variable expenses, like food and entertainment, and place that amount on a prepaid card or in a separate checking account to help you stick to your spending limit. “If you can focus on a fixed expense and then also focus on tracking variable expenses or putting an allowance system in place, that combination is going to have the biggest impact long term,” Brewer says.

If you’re ready to get started on your savings account, use these tips to create a monthly budget.

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This information is general in nature and is provided for educational purposes only. Regions makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information presented. Information provided should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal, or tax advice. Regions encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation. Regions neither endorses nor guarantees any websites or companies referenced in this article that are not owned by Regions.