You might feel overwhelmed by your budget – or lack thereof. When the bills roll in faster than the income, things can get crazy, and the dream of saving feels more distant. Still, there’s hope. In little ways that make a gradual difference, you can see your savings efforts accumulate and even increase.
Know your income and expenses. It’s a very obvious tip, but it’s still crucial to mention since so many do not take this basic first step. Do your expenses exceed your income? Then adjust them. Pare down to the crucial things – and know that luxuries are not necessary now. Planning for emergencies and providing for essentials are your goals now. Or, perhaps you’re at a place in life where you can treat yourself occasionally. Maybe even often. It all depends on your budget.
Pay things off, including credit cards. At times, relying on cards to make payments is a necessary evil, but it should not be a regular habit. Continually accruing interest by making only the minimum payment could be like paying $7,000 for a Popsicle over time. Think twice before you overuse credit. Instead, become selective in your purchases and keep them to a price you can afford each month. It might feel like less fun, but in the long run it will be a lot more enjoyable without the stress of crushing debt.
After you have worked out a budget, it’s easier to save money and keep saving it. It’s also easier to categorize your budget in terms of household needs, groceries, health expenses, clothing, etc. Knowing the places your money goes, and how much, helps you keep track of it. Adjust as necessary. It’s great to have a category especially for savings, too, and make savings an automatic part of your budget. An automatic withdrawal option is possible from most banks as well.
It’s a great idea to create savings goals. Just as a child collects coins in a piggy bank and his anticipation and pride in his saving grows, so can yours. But instead of buying a toy as you did when you were a child, purchase a house. A car. Something of substance that you need and can take some comfort in knowing you purchased it in a wise manner. Make a game of it and challenge a spouse, partner or child to compete with you. Who can save the most in what period of time? Of course, an adult will have advantage over a child, but handicap yourself with special rules if necessary. Just have some fun.
Plan for large expenses. If you know you will soon need a new refrigerator, for example, budget for it. A new furnace or air conditioner, or even a major medical need requires the same amount of planning. Working out and saving for what you need, before you immediately need it, decreases your stress and your family’s.
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These savings habits will get you started. Enjoy the healthy benefits!