This past week was America Saves Week, an annual event to encourage Americans to focus on saving and reexamine their own savings plans.
As part of America Saves Week, WISER asked you to share with us your own tips, advice, and ways to save. We received submissions via Facebook, Twitter, and email. Below are some of the great tips and suggestions our readers offered that can help you increase your savings and reach your savings goals.
1. Enroll in your bank’s “save the change” program, if they offer one. These programs will automatically round your purchases up to the nearest dollar and transfer the difference into a savings account. It can add up over time and is a great way to fund a savings account. You can also do this with physical change. It’s time to break out that piggy bank and save your coins! One reader even saves $5 bills every time she gets one.
2. If you have only one savings account, consider opening another one. Set one account as a fund for emergencies ONLY. Create a second account for other savings. This method will allow you to save for big ticket items or holiday gifts each year, while reducing the temptation to dip into your emergency fund for anything other than emergencies.
3. Budget, budget, budget! Make a monthly budget or spending plan that includes a line item for contributions to your savings accounts. Working it into your budget from the beginning will prevent you from thinking of it as available spending money. WISER has a budget worksheet to help with this.
4. Lacking motivation? Create a card, poster, or other visual item that represents you and the life you want to live in retirement. Put it somewhere visible, like next to your computer or on your fridge so that when you are tempted to buy something, you’ll remember your future and ask yourself if the purchase is really necessary. You can even put a picture of your dream retirement on your credit card as a reminder before you use it.
5. Teach your kids about finances and saving. Read them books about savings (like WISER’s book, Sonja Meets Her Future Self) to help them learn the difference between needs and wants, and why saving is important. You’re never too young to have a savings account, so think about helping them set one up.
6. It can be tempting when you get that tax refund to spend it. Instead, put your refunds into your retirement or savings account. If you set it automatically to deposit into those accounts, you won’t even notice that extra cash or be tempted to spend it. WISER also recommends doing this with bonuses and other unexpected cash increases.
7. Skip the morning coffee run and make your own. Bring a thermos with you to work. This way you can have coffee during your commute, or whenever you need it during the day. It may not seem like a lot, but those little daily purchases add up over time!
8. If you do buy something like coffee or lunch that you could have brought from home, rather than feeling guilty about it, match it! Put the same amount that you spent on the item into your savings. You’ll get instant gratification with your yummy treat, but also delayed gratification with more savings!
9. Just like it’s okay to occasionally splurge on a diet, it’s okay to buy something fun every now and then while you’re saving. But just like a diet, you have to limit yourself and splurge within reason so that you don’t throw your goals completely off track. Try putting a line item in your budget for “extra expenses.” You can plan ahead for those splurges, and then you won’t blow your whole budget when you buy those really cute shoes, or dine out with friends. If you don’t use those funds one month, you can add it to the next month’s budget, or better yet, transfer the amount you didn’t spend into your savings.
Thanks to our readers and followers who participated in America Saves Week. Do you have any other ideas? Let us know in the comments and share your savings wisdom. Let’s keep the spirit of saving alive all year long!