The more money you save and the earlier you begin saving, the more your money will grow. Make saving a habit and priority now--when money’s tight--and you’ll reap the benefits later in life.
- Make savings automatic. One of the most important rules of saving money is making it a habit. Each pay period, have money automatically transferred from your paycheck to your savings account. Direct deposit makes saving simple because you can’t spend what you don’t see!
- Adjust your withholdings. Make sure your W-4 form is filled out to your best advantage. File a new W-4 anytime there’s a major change in your life, like a marriage, birth of a child or purchase of a home, all of which can affect the amount of tax you’ll owe.
- Cut corners. If you save $20 per week by bringing your lunch to work, put that $20 into savings. Like movies? Catch the matinee at discounted prices or rent DVDs and deposit the difference in your savings account.
- Reduce monthly fees. Monthly fees can add up to hundreds of dollars per year. Eliminate services that you pay for but don’t use, such as call-waiting, premium cable channels, gym memberships or magazine subscriptions.
- Put away windfall money. When you earn a raise, get a refund or receive a cash gift, put it in your savings account. You know you can get by without the extra money, so put it to work for you; it’ll be worth even more later.
- Make payments to yourself. If you’re currently making loan payments, when you’ve paid the balance in full, use that money to make regular contributions to your savings account. Since you’re used to living without the extra money, you won’t miss it!
- Keep your eyes on the prize. Whether your goal is next semester’s tuition, home ownership or early retirement, regularly remind yourself why you’re saving and make it a priority. Post notes and pictures that represent your goals on the refrigerator for inspiration, and congratulate yourself as your balance grows.
- Invest today for wealth tomorrow. Once you have an emergency fund, no credit debt and short-term savings in place, start thinking about long-term investing. If you work for a company that offers a 401(k) or other pre-tax matched savings plan, aim to invest at least as much as your employer will match - that’s free money!