Would you call yourself a good saver? According to the US Federal Reserve, 39% of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $400.00 emergency. This could spell disaster for those families facing even a minor financial crisis. The lack of financial security can cause stress and frustration by forcing you to face an impending doom. Luckily, a few small changes to your lifestyle could be all you need to have a financially secure future. By building habits of highly successful savers, you too can start your road to savings.
Bear in mind that saving is a slow process. It takes time to see results. However, forming good habits can dramatically increase your results over time.
Here are some habits to set you apart as a successful saver:
SAVERS PAY THEMSELVES FIRST
The first good habit to get into is to pay yourself first. The problem that most people run into is they pay their daily expenses (groceries and eating out) and their bills first, and then nothing is left at the end of the month to put into savings. By reversing the order and paying yourself first, you force yourself to rethink your spending priorities. Savings first, then bills, then extra stuff like fun money and restaurants.
Habit tip: make it a habit to save a percentage of every paycheck. Start with just 1% if that’s all you can afford but try to increase that as soon as possible. Avoid spending this money on anything else!
SAVERS SAVE AUTOMATICALLY
How many times have you thought about saving money by manually moving funds from one account to another? How did that work out for you? The issue with saving manually is that, one, you might forget and, two, it’s too easy to find other things to use that money for before it ever gets into savings.
If you can, consider having money automatically saved to your savings account. You might be able to do this through your bank – to move money from your checking to your savings automatically on a certain day of the month, for instance. Or you could have the money removed from your paycheck automatically when you get paid.
Habit tip: Check with your employer to see if they are willing and able to split your paycheck and send a portion into checking and a portion into savings. Most employers are able to do this through their payroll system.
SAVERS KEEP THEIR SPENDING IN CHECK
Here’s a bonus tip right at the top: The less you spend, the easier it is to save. If you are able to control your spending, you’ll have more resources available to save. As an exercise, download your bank account or credit card statement from last month – pick whichever you use most for your daily spending. Then categorize your spending into broad categories:
- Home (rent/mortgage/utilities)
- Groceries and household goods
- Clothing (for work, leisure, workout)
- Food and drink (restaurants, bars, coffee, takeout)
- Entertainment (movies, plays, games, sporting events)
- Automotive (gas, registration, repairs)
- Internet (cable, streaming services)
- Medical (doctors, prescriptions)
- Children (childcare, education expenses)
- Pets (food, toys, veterinarian)
Once you get it categorized, examine your spending, and see if you consider your money well spent. Look for places you could cut back. Do you enjoy lattes several days a week? Could you cut that back to one day or make an at-home version? Every dollar you don’t spend is a dollar you can save.
Habit tip: Shop with a list. If you do your grocery shopping without a list, it is very easy to come home with much more than you intended. Make a list of what you need, take that list with you, and stick to it. This will help keep impulse buying to a minimum.
SAVERS AVOID DEBT
It’s incredibly difficult to save money while you’re in debt, and the reason is math. Consider this – most savings accounts earn less than 1% interest. Most credit cards charge upwards of 26% interest. If you put $100 in savings, you’ll earn $0.75 in interest after taxes in one year. If you have a 26% interest credit card with a $100 balance, that year will COST you an additional $13. Debt is a savings killer.
Habit tip: Try a cash envelope system for making your purchases. If you can’t pay cash for it, you can’t afford it. Using a cash envelope will force you to stick within your budget, and make it easier for you to save.
SAVERS HAVE GOALS
Having a strong “why” will help keep you motivated to save money. Whatever your reason – retirement, vacation, college education, etc. – having a clear picture of WHY you’re saving will make it easier for you to cut spending and keep saving.
Habit tip: Write down your goals and why’s on a note card and place it somewhere you’ll see it every day – on your refrigerator or on your bathroom mirror. This will help you keep your eyes on the prize.
SAVERS TAKE MEASUREMENTS
Most successful savers keep track of how much money is in their accounts and how much they’ve saved and spent. They stay on top of their income and expenses. They’re aware of what’s going on with their budget, and they’re ready to roll with the punches in case of an unexpected twist.
Habit tip: Log in to your online banking account every morning. Do it when you sit down to eat breakfast or with your morning coffee.
SAVERS ARE FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE IN GENERAL
Savers keep track of their money—it’s just that simple. They pay their bills on time. They know what debt they have. They have an emergency fund. The more effort you put in, the more reward you get out.
Habit tip: Consider working with a financial coach. A financial coach will help you examine your spending, finding extra money in your budget, paying down debt, and starting your savings.
It may seem difficult, but it’s possible to start and grow your savings. Having more effective habits will only increase your chances of success. Creating these habits will support your financial well-being and help you to grow your savings!