Saving money is a peace of mind. Recent surveys show that less than half of Americans have an adequate amount of money saved up and over 30 percent has nothing saved for retirement. Considering the enormous amount of uncertainty in the world, it’s important to have a convenient way to cover for emergencies and other unexpected events in life.
However, saving money doesn’t just have to be about emergencies. Most people have some kind of goals, like saving up for big purchases or saving up for college funds and retirement. No matter your reason for saving money, here are the easiest ways to start saving money today.
1. Open a Savings Account
One of the best ways to get started saving money is to simply open a savings account. Oftentimes a savings account will require an initial deposit. Sometimes they’ll have certain incentives to keep your money in the account. High-yield savings accounts offer monthly interest paid to you. Other accounts deduct maintenance fees from you if certain criteria are not met. In addition, some savings accounts limit the number of times you can withdraw from them.
Tip: It’s recommended to open a savings account separate from the bank holding your checking account. This will make it less tempting to make easy transfers from your savings to your checking account.
2. Retirement Plans
Another way to save is by enrolling in a retirement plan. Retirement plans are usually offered by your employer, but there are private retirement plans as well. Plans such as a 401(k) allow you to deposit a small percentage of your income into an account, and your employer will match a certain percentage on top of that. This is a great way to ensure a nice nest egg when it comes to retiring.
Tip: Retirement Plans are long-term investments. To maximize your retirement funds, make sure to follow the policy closely. Usually, there is a minimum amount of time you need to stay with an employer in order for them to match full benefits. Also, make sure you do not pull money out of your retirement plan before the declared age of retirement, or else penalties incur.
3. Money-saving Apps
Nowadays there are a plethora of apps designed to help users save money. Given the popularity of smartphones, it’s almost a disservice to not utilize these tools. An example is an app like Tip Jar which lets you reward yourself with a small tip for doing responsible things. If you got a free lunch or stopped yourself from making a senseless purchase, go ahead and deposit a small tip for yourself through the app.
Tip: Other apps to look for are investment apps like Acorns or Stash. These apps let you automatically deposit small amounts of money that are used to invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Not only do these apps introduce you to investing, but they double as a savings account that accrues interest.
The tried-and-true way to save money is by adhering to a budget. Budgets are a way to track your spending and prioritize your needs versus your wants.
Designing the right budget will ultimately start with knowing your monthly income. From there it’s a matter of prioritizing your purchases and seeing how much money you have leftover, which you can then put into a savings account.
If you need help calculating your budget, there’s an app for that. Popular budgeting apps such as Mint provide all the tools you need to create a budget. Simply attach your bank accounts to the apps and they’ll automatically track your purchases so that you can build a budget around that data. For those that like to do things themselves, creating spreadsheets is an alternative to budget apps.
Tip: A well-known budgeting method is the 50/20/30 rule. It suggests that you put aside 50 percent of your income to needs (rent, transportation, food, etc.), 30 percent to your wants (e.g., entertainment), and 20 percent to your savings.
If you are not into savings yet, we strongly encourage that you start saving money today. According to recent studies, only 40 percent of Americans have enough money saved for one month of expenses or household needs. And almost 30 percent of households have less than $1,000 saved. Start saving money today and be ahead.