It isn’t news to any of us that we need to save more money. Seventy-six percent of all households are living paycheck to paycheck. However, getting that savings habit started is not always an easy task. Today, let’s take a look at ways to start.
Save regularly. I’ve been doing this over the last couple of years to save for my grandkids’ education. I usually start the first of the year, but you can start anytime. The first week, put $1 in a container, the second week you save $2 (makes $3 in the jar) and continue throughout the year. By the time you get to the 52nd week, you are saving $52 for the week. This adds up to $1,378 in the jar.
Save a little amount more often. This is a variation on the same plan. You save one penny on the first day, two pennies on the second day and on through the year. On the last day of the year, you will put $3.65 in the jar. I bet you didn’t realize that the small everyday step of putting pennies in a jar will add up to $667.96 during the course of the year. Again, it is only pennies, but when you dedicate this amount to savings, it really adds up.
Give something up and save that sum of money. It could be the cost of your lunch or a latte from the corner coffee stand. Whichever you choose, dedicating $10 once a week will add up to $520 in a year. Again, this is a considerable start on a healthy savings account.
One further step is to nix a bad habit and save that money. Whether it is stopping smoking, that beer after work or even a pastry on the way to work, your health will improve and so will your pocketbook.
Start a change jar. Empty the change from your pockets or purse each day into a jar. This is less effective now since most of us commonly use a debit or a credit card and are spending less cash. However, it will work if you are diligent.
Another variation on this method is to set aside a certain denomination of cash. Every time you come across a dollar bill or $5 or $20, save it. It will add up over time. I have a box full of dollar bills that I’ve gathered over the last few months, which amounts to about $200.
If you don’t handle much cash and you still want to save, automate your savings. Have a certain amount moved from your checking account to a savings account every week, pay period or month. If your paycheck is direct deposited, sometimes you can even put it two different accounts. Consider splitting it into your checking and savings account. It takes discipline to do it yourself. If the bank takes care of it, it relieves you of that pressure.
Sometimes we look for extra money to save. So where do you get that extra money? Take a look around you. For most of us, there are plenty of unused items at home. Get rid of stuff you no longer need or use by selling it on Craigslist or at a garage sale. Then use this money to start a savings account.
Saving money is just like any other habit, the more you work at it, the more successful you will be. Choose a plan to work at, be consistent and, before you know it, you’ll have the money to start a savings account.
Roxie Rodgers Dinstel is associate director of Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Questions or column requests can be e-mailed to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 907-474-7201.