Saving money for the future is important. But when you’re living on a tight budget, the idea of saving for emergencies and retirement can feel out of reach. No matter your current financial situation, however, it’s worth it to find ways to cut down your monthly expenses enough to tuck away a few dollars for a rainy day, a large purchase, and your future. To create a custom savings plan, you’ll want to take a look at your expenses to find areas that could use a little trimming thus freeing up funds for your savings account. Next, you can start slowly building your accounts. But first, what exactly are you saving for?
Create Your Savings Goals
Prior to evaluating just how much you can afford to contribute towards your savings monthly, let’s talk goals. Along with helping motivate you, goals can help you assess and comprehend the importance of savings. Having a financial cushion in case of emergency is a great idea. Fortunately, while you’re still working towards saving enough to have a fully funded rainy-day fund, Cash Central is here to help you with unexpected emergencies and costs that pop up. With a quick, online application* you could be on your way to approval in no time at all. Loan availability depends on your state of residence, so check out what is offered in your area prior to applying. Saving for emergencies isn’t the only reason to set aside money, though. You might need to save for an upcoming large purchase, a trip you’re dying to take, or retirement. Whatever your reasons for saving money, choose a few goals to get started or add your own!
- Rainy Day Fund – a fully funded rainy-day fund will have enough to cover 3-6 months of expenses but starting with a goal of $1,000 is a widespread practice and a great way to kick off your savings plans.
- Back-to-school Expenses – if you have kiddos headed back to school this month, you might have started your savings a few months back. Feeling stressed but making it work this year? Avoid the back-to-school spending blues by starting a savings plan early for next year. A few dollars tucked away each month will make a big difference.
- Large Purchases – if you are expecting a large purchase7 in the near future, start saving now! Getting close to the end of the road for your vehicle or a major appliance? Set aside a little bit at a time to avoid the pinch a large purchase can put on a month’s budget when it comes up and you have not started saving.
- Retirement – perhaps the largest savings goal to tackle, retirement is an extremely important savings goal. You will want to determine how much you anticipate receiving from Social Security and whether you will need to take your Social Security Early (which does mean you will take a lesser amount- be sure to talk to a Social Security representative for details). The more you have saved prior to retirement, the better your circumstances will be.
Once you’ve created your goals, map them out. Look at how much you will need to save and make a plan that is based on yearly and monthly savings goals. Some of your goals may be short-term5 while others will take years to accomplish. Creating a plan is necessary if you want to reach those goals and create a financial cushion for yourself. Wondering how to make saving money fun? I personally love a good visual aide. I have used charts (color coded with my favorite markers or gel pens of course) to track savings for fun things like trips or less fun things like paying off credit cards. It sounds a little silly, perhaps, but a visual of my progress helped me to stay on track. Each time I thought about spending unnecessary money4 or splurging, I could see my tracker hanging on the fridge and it motivated me to choose savings instead because I knew I was investing in my future. When considering what to spend money on, visualizing your goals and your progress can make a difference.
Revamp Your Budget
Saving starts with budgeting. If you find that each month gets tighter and tighter financially, and if you can’t imagine having any money left over for savings, you’re not alone. Around 43% of Americans2 do not have enough money to handle an expense of $1,000. With the rising cost of living, inflation, and an increasingly tempting array of purchases all around just waiting for us to swipe a card, it’s no surprise that people aren’t saving money. You’ve decided to be different, though. You are on track to be one of the people who can not only cover a $1,000 expense by dipping into your rainy-day fund but also someone who has months’ worth of expenses set aside and a retirement plan. Start by taking a look at your current expenses and assessing what is necessary and which expenses are flexible or removeable. You can create a budget,6 even if you’re on a tight budget, that will allow for your current expenses and at least a small contribution to savings. Subscriptions are so easy to sign up for and seem inexpensive, but two or three subscriptions (or more, let’s be honest) can add up quickly. Assessing your spending will surely uncover at least a few cost saving ideas that you can implement to help you save money regularly. If not, perhaps a side gig is in order. No matter what it takes, you can control your spending and your savings. Your mindset has been altered, and you are now a person who wants to save, right? Use the Cash Central Budget Planning Tool to get started and create your new budget.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Set up a separate savings account to keep track of your savings and to make it a little less convenient1 to use funds you’ve earmarked for savings. It’s easy to decide on a whim about a purchase and think I have the money so why not? But that line of thinking won’t help you reach your ultimate goals. Keeping your money in a different account, not attached to your debit card, adds an extra step to the spending process. In theory, when you have to transfer money from savings it will force you to take the time to decide if the purchase is really worth it or not. A great way to ensure you don’t skip saving one month is to set up auto-drafts that take money from your checking account and deposit it into a savings account as soon as you get paid. Automating the savings process3 can help you stick to your plan and reach your goals! You can reach your goals with dedication to the process and by practicing patience and self-control. Even though it won’t necessarily be easy, saving for your future will prove worth it in the long run because you are investing in the future.
* In California, deferred deposit loans are provided in accordance with the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation pursuant to California Deferred Deposit Transaction Law, Cal. Fin. Code §23000 et seq. Exact funding time depends on the terms of your financial institution.
1Shaji, Rajith (2022, Mar 29). 10 Ways to Effectively Save for the Future Retrieved from: https://www.entrepreneur.com/en-in/news-and-trends/10-ways-to-effectively-save-for-the-future/423319
2Bennett, Karen (2023, Mar 17). 6 tips to set (and hit) your savings goals Retrieved from: https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/how-to-set-savings-goals/
3Courtney-Rose Dantus and Erica Kritt (2018, Feb 26). How to save for emergencies and the future Retrieved from: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/how-save-emergencies-and-future/
4Burnette, Margarette (2021, May 25). How to Make a Savings Plan Retrieved from: https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/banking/how-to-make-a-savings-plan
5Honeycutt, Bonnie (2023, Apr 11). Savings Goals: How to Set And Achieve Them Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/banking/savings/savings-goals/
6Price, Jessica (2023, Jun 7). Building an Emergency Fund on a Budget Retrieved from: https://www.cashcentral.com/blog/building-an-emergency-fund-on-a-budget/
7Price, Jessica (2023, Jun 5). How to Budget for Large Expenses Retrieved from: https://www.cashcentral.com/blog/how-to-budget-for-large-expenses/