Putting aside savings from every paycheck requires a lot of discipline, which sadly most of us lack. But there are strategies to help you deal with this situation, and to be able to develop and commit yourself to a long term savings strategy. Below are a few ways in which you can begin to or increase your savings plan.
- The first and foremost thing you can do is systematically note down everything you spend, at least once a day, if not more. When you look at the list afterwards, and go through all your expenditures, you find lots of items which you don’t really need, or which are of marginal value at best. Even a single item scratched out of your daily purchases can lead to big savings down the road. Another advantage of this strategy is that you get a sense of how much you have spent so far in the current month, thus forcing you to cut back on the spending, when compared to your monthly earnings.
- Another easy way to start saving is to just put aside a specific amount for savings at the start of the month, as soon as you get your paycheck, rather than waiting to see how much you spend, and then depositing or investing the balance, if any, as savings. That means you have no choice but to pay your bills, and use whatever is left over as your personal expense account.
- Sign up for an employer sponsored retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k), if your employer offers one and you are eligible. If not, then you can open an IRA with a financial organization. In addition to the savings and earnings, you also get tax benefits. With direct monthly deductions from your paycheck, again, you do not have much of a choice except to spend what is leftover after the savings and bills are paid.
- Use credit cards only for emergencies or in specific cases where there is a potential benefit for using a card instead of paying cash, or via debit card. Whatever cards you do have, pay your balances monthly and on time, avoiding interest hikes or late payment fines. This will also help you increase your credit scores and get you better deals on future loans.
- Review all your monthly payments for mortgages, utility bills, health plans and similar recurring expenses. There is a very good chance that you will definitely be able to get better deals, with smaller premiums, lower interest rates and smaller payments. Add any extra amounts you get, as a result of re-negotiations or shifting to a different provider, to your monthly savings.
- Avoid shopping sprees at all costs. You can shop, compare prices, order and receive delivery sitting at your home using the internet. Again, do not browse for things you do not need, whether by physically going to the stores, or visiting websites. When you need something, search around for the best deal, order it and quit shopping.
Please note that some of the issues discussed above may need you to consult your financial planner. Also, if you cut back on your spending while the rest of your family, or even a single member, splurges, then all your efforts will have been in vain. In order to be truly effective, a good savings plan has to be a family effort, with each member, big or small, earning or not, putting in his or her share of sacrifice, in order to assure all of you of a secure and comfortable future.