With the effects of the financial collapse still very real to many, saving has become a high priority. It has caused some to take a closer look at their regimen and others to start saving all together. If you haven’t done it before, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. And even if you’ve been a diligent saver for years, it is worth making sure that you’re not missing out on any additional opportunities.
The following are some easy tips to maximize your saving potential:
- Create a budget. It seems so obvious, yet many people still don’t have one. Start by tracking your income and spending for one month. Make sure you consider fixed expenses like car or home loan and utilities, as well as variable expenses like entertainment and travel. Provide a detailed list and note how much is spent, how much is saved and where you can cut back. You may be surprised at the things you find. Once you have an idea of these things you’re ready to get started. Identify your fixed costs and the amount you wish to save each month and still have money left over to live on, and then stick to it!
- Plan for holiday spending. Many banks have “Christmas Club accounts,” which allow you to put aside small amounts of money during the year for holiday spending. Come January, you won’t be singing the “credit card blues,” you will have paid for all your gifts in cash from what you put aside in small amounts all through the year.
- Direct deposit into your savings account. “Out of sight, out of mind” is the philosophy here. Once you identify your living expenses and an amount (however small) that can be saved, contact your employer about getting direct deposit. When a portion of your paycheck is automatically deposited into your savings account, it makes it easier to make it “off limits.” Direct deposit allows you to split your paycheck into many accounts and amounts, and it arrives before you would have had an opportunity to get to the bank with your paper check.
- Brown bag-it. Bringing your lunch to work is an easy way to save some extra dollars (and calories!) each week. An average person spends at least $25 to $30 on lunch each week. If you spend that amount on lunch supplies at the grocery store, you can spread that out over two weeks. Just imagine how fast your savings could build up, simply by bringing your food to work. Based on this example, it could end up saving you nearly $800 a year!
- Sign up for online bill pay. Busy schedules are a fact of life. And with there being too much to do and not enough time in the day (or week…or month, for that matter), some things fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, that sometimes includes not paying bills on time. Avoiding unnecessary charges on late fees and (here comes that word again) helping to budget expenses are two of the best benefits to online bill pay. With bill pay, you can not only schedule payments so they arrive on time, you can also see a history of bills that have been paid to that payee. This allows you to see if any of your expenses are rising—as well as saving you stamps and time. iBi