Are you one of the estimated 60 percent of Americans who either has no savings at all or whose emergency cash amounts to less than $1,000? Do you barely survive from one paycheck to the next and have little or nothing saved up for your golden retirement years? It’s never too late to set yourself some savings goals and start saving so you can at least have peace of mind knowing you have a financial safety net in case of an emergency.
I don’t have any spare money after I’ve paid all my bills. The fact is, everyone can find an amount to put aside, however small. Remember how, as a kid, your parents made you stow away small change in a piggy bank? Maybe you still keep a jar or drawer full of pennies? Well, the modern ‘saving made easy’ version of your piggy bank is a savings scheme such as Bank of America’s ‘Keep the Change’. Each time you use your debit card to make a purchase, Bank of America rounds up the cost to the nearest dollar before depositing the difference into your savings account.
Similarly, the Acorns app rounds up your purchases and invests your spare change in low cost, exchange-traded funds, for a small fee.
Earn while you learn. A Payleaf account literally lets you earn while you learn. Sign up for the account, set up your specific savings goals and get paid directly into your savings account by carrying out recommended research such as watching a video about an aspect of baby care for your “saving for baby account” or setting up a meeting with a financial adviser for your “saving for a house account.”
Budget. To boost your “saving for a rainy day account,” take the time to keep track of your income and expenditure so you can see exactly where your money goes. You’ll soon find plenty of ways to cut spending on non-essentials and put the savings you make into your savings account. Start off with simple steps such as:
Break the habit of that morning Starbucks latte. Brew your own coffee at home or in the office instead. USA Today offers an online coffee cost calculator that shows what you can purchase with the savings you make if you give up just one 16-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee a day. After 143 days, for example, you’d have enough to buy an iPad mini.
Cut back on take-outs, and start making your own sandwiches for lunch and cooking evening meals at home. Not only will you save money – you’ll also benefit from eating a healthier diet and from the peace of mind that comes with building up a financial cushion in case of emergencies or unexpected expenditure.
YOLO so what’s the point? You can’t take it with you. The stark facts are that a funeral in the U.S. can cost up to $10,000 dollars. Do you really want to leave your loved ones with the cost of covering your funeral as well as potentially paying off your debts and settling any taxes due? Savings can help ease your family’s distress and provide some financial security, but before you start putting your spare cash into savings, make sure you have a good life insurance policy in place to give you peace of mind when the unexpected happens. Term life insurance is the most effective way to buy death benefit coverage. Get a free, no-obligation quote from FIT LIFE COVERED™ where you can use the blood profile tool to learn more about your health. Once you’ve discovered how little your policy costs, apply online to get your coverage in place without further delay.
I’ll start saving when I’m older and have more spare cash. The earlier you start saving, the better. Saving $100 each month for 25 years can build into a healthy pot of $44,712.28 with 3 percent interest rates. The same monthly amount saved for 15 years would total to just $22,754.01. Healthy Americans are living longer, so it’s a sound investment to regularly set some money aside to enjoy your retirement years and maintain a decent living standard.
Poor interest rates. There are many genuine reasons why people are reluctant to invest their hard-earned cash in the banks. Some accounts require holders to maintain a minimum balance to avoid paying fees. According to Quentin Frottrell, personal finance editor for MarketWatch, the minimum per account may vary from $300 to $1,500 a month at some of the country’s main banks. Add to your savings and the cumulative interest builds over time. The more you save, the more you earn.
I need the latest gadget. I have nothing to wear. This is becoming less of an issue as Americans increasingly are choosing to spend their money on experiences rather than accumulating possessions. However, if you really feel you need another pair of shoes, or the latest smartphone, don’t buy on impulse. Consider want versus need. How long before the initial rush of excitement dissipates and you wish you’d saved your money? Possessions rarely enrich your life, and mounting debt or needlessly eroding your savings can lead to health-damaging stress.
Define your savings goals. When you decide to commit to saving your money regularly, start off by defining your savings goals. Having one or more specific items for which to save gives you a huge incentive.
Save for vacation. If you’re young and have no commitments, why not develop good savings habits by saving for a vacation? Work out how much you need for travel, accommodation, food and drink, entrance tickets and spending money. Set a date for your trip, and work out how much you need to set aside in your account each month to meet your target. Come back from your dream vacation fully rested and without the mounting dread of opening your next credit card statement.
Start a “saving for a car” account. Work out the total amount you need to fund the purchase and insurance, and keep up the good savings habit so you can meet unexpected repair costs, new tires and fuel for those road trips to show off your new wheels.
Bucketed savings. As you grow older and take on more commitments, there are more demands on your savings. A bucketed savings approach helps you divide up your savings into different segments and keep them separate so you’re not tempted to blow the whole amount on one item. For example, you might save for your wedding, put aside money for a down payment on a house and keep an emergency fund while also hoping to afford a honeymoon. You might feel pressured into pouring all your savings into a dream honeymoon vacation unless you keep your cash in separate buckets.
Establish a “saving for wedding” account. When it’s time to settle down and you and your future life partner commit to a “saving for wedding account,” keep wedding costs under control and stay firmly within your agreed budget. Starting your life together with a pile of debt brings unnecessary stress to a new union. Research by the Debt Advisory Centre in the U.K. found that nearly 25 percent of couples surveyed were prepared to take on debt to have their dream wedding and nearly half of these couples admitted to regretting this decision within days of the event. Many faced the nightmare scenario of still paying off the debt up to six years later. You can have a beautiful day at a fraction of the cost.
According to MarketWatch, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is approximately equal to 15 percent of a down payment on an average home. Would you truly want to blow that amount of money on a one time experience? Now consider that nearly one-fifth of all couples will go through a divorce, and go on to get married a second time. Think about the amount of money you want to invest in your future before you spend it all in one day.
Create a “saving for a house” account. Whether you are single or have a life partner, saving for a house is often a priority. But of course, there are more costs to buying a house than just the cost of the mortgage. Consider furnishing an entire living space. It can be pricy, and that cost is not factored into the purchasing of the home. There is also home maintenance; your roof, gutters, plumbing, garden, grass, stonework, windows and alarm system are all maintenance expenses to be considered in addition to the overall cost of your home.
Think about a “saving for baby” account. Finally, if your future plans include starting a family, the sooner you start a saving for baby account the better. A generous baby shower and doting grandparents might yield some of the paraphernalia you need, but the truth is that having a baby is the most expensive health event you are likely to face during your childbearing years. Parents magazine quotes an average of $3,500 for a hospital delivery, and this can more than double when you add in the cost of prenatal, delivery-related and postpartum care. You then have the ongoing costs of diapers, babysitters and covering income loss. Check out your health insurance and life insurance facts so you know what’s included, and boost your coverage if necessary.
So, now you appreciate why you need to get the savings habit, you might be asking, “Where are the tools to help me save?”
Budgeting tool. A budgeting tool is a good place to start. Writing in Forbes, Rob Berger reviews seven different budget tools that can help you identify where your money is going. Some connect to your financial institution and automatically download transactions, while others link your banking and investment accounts and analyze your spending habits. An additional budgeting tool is Payleaf. Through a Payleaf account, you can establish alternative income streams and keep the money you earn in a bucketed savings account.
Online saving tool. Once you’ve identified your available spare cash each month, find an online saving tool or app to squirrel away that money before you’re tempted to spend it. Typically, your bank’s mobile app makes it easy to move money straight from your checking account to your savings account with just a few taps. Better still, set up a regular monthly transfer so that any spare money is gone before you notice it, the moment your paycheck hits your account.
It’s easy to find excuses to put off starting a savings account, yet maintaining financial health is an important part of building a sound future for yourself and your family. Make saving a habit and breathe more easily knowing that you have a financial cushion to ease the stress of unexpected emergencies, that you can buy what you need without mounting debts, and that you can enjoy a decent standard of living during your retirement years.