There are a host of stories revealing that Americans’ saving accounts are in trouble. Many live paycheck-to-paycheck, and retirement account balances are not where they should be.
A recent survey revealed 62 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts. A stunning 21 percent don’t even have a savings account. Retirement accounts? Forget about it.
Still, it’s never too late to save. And if you are saving, there are always new strategies to help you save more.
Make a plan.
One of the best ways to save is to start with a plan. What are you saving for? A luxury vacation? Retirement? Your child’s college education? Attach a dollar amount to your goal to help you determine how much you'll need to save each week and month. Be specific. Writing down your goals will make them more real and easier to achieve. For instance, telling yourself to save for the future is admirable but vague. Making a written pledge to save $2,000 for your vacation to Disney World is much more tangible and encouraging. You may even want to consider separate savings accounts for your larger goals. If you’re saving for an event or bigger purchase that is months or years away, setting up special share certificates can give your accounts an extra boost.
Start with automation.
Before you pay your bills, buy another round of groceries or splurge on your next online purchase, pay yourself first. This strategy applies to funding your retirement account and your rainy day fund. By working with your credit union, and your employer, you can set your savings to automatically allocate funds to all of your respective accounts. By doing this, you save without making a decision on whether to spend the money.
Take your raise and save it.
If you’re lucky enough to get a raise or bonus in 2017, automatically increase your contributions to your respective savings accounts. In short, when you make more, save more. You’ve already grown accustomed to living on your salary, so if you get the bump, just sock it away.
One of the advantages to living in an online world is the access and availability to financial tools. A site like Mint can help you set goals, track where your dollars are spent and give you progress reports along the way. After a few months you'll have insight into where you can easily cut spending and redirect that money toward savings. These tools also make your savings goals more concrete by turning them into deadline-driven objectives complete with recommended monthly contributions to help you get there.
Combine all of these tips and you’re sure to see results. Build up that rainy day fund, max out your 401k savings, establish a plan for your child’s college education and save in advance for the next vacation. If you are using credit cards, pay them off each month. The key is to live within your means, and as you start to see those savings accounts rise, your stress levels will drop and personal satisfaction will climb.
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