Do you find yourself envious of those who have a savings account? Have you ever found yourself having to charge unexpected expenses on a credit card because you don't have any money saved? If you lost your job, would you have any savings to cover your living expenses? Do you stress over saving money?
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You may really want a savings account, but aren't sure how those who have one actually do it. Maybe you've tried, and just don't seem to have anything left over each month for savings. Trust me, you're not alone!
Financial experts across the board recommend having a savings account, however. So how do you go about it?
Here are some tips for making saving money part of your family's budget.
Pay Yourself First
One of the reasons many families feel they can't afford to save is that they don't seem to have enough left over after everything's paid. But what if you put money into your savings account first, and then tackled your other expenses with what's left? Think in reverse! It might help to make it a percentage, say 10%, of your income. You'll learn to mentally note this so that you recognize right away that a $1000 check is actually a $900 one.
I'm not gonna lie, this takes an extreme amount of discipline. Most of us pay bills right out of the gate, especially if we're barely getting by. But even if you start with a very small amount, it's helping you to form the habit of paying yourself first. Every little bit helps and will add up in the long run.
Has anyone ever asked you how you're going to spend a certain amount of money? Maybe it's a pile of cash you received as a gift, a tax return, a bonus from work, or some other way that you receive money over and above your usual income. A key to saving is, don't earmark the windfall! Instead, put it in your savings account (unless you have an emergency need for it right away) and use as needed. This requires some discipline, especially if someone gives you cash as a gift and wants to know what you spent it on. But this habit of putting windfalls into the bank is a great way to jump-start your savings account.
We typically try saving money every year at tax season. As we're planning out what to do with our extra funds, it's always bills, savings, and then hopefully a little left over for fun!
There's nothing like a budget to show you where you can cut back and save more. Review all those optional expenses – cable, eating out, phone apps, whatever – and see where you can trim unnecessary expenditures. (I recommend using a budget planner to keep track of everything.) Then move that money over into savings. Now I'm not advocating cutting off everything, only you can decide which expenses are necessary, not necessary but nice to have, or something you can live without. You might even consider just a temporary cut back, giving up certain extras for a limited amount of time so you can get your savings started.
Split the Costs
When it comes to involving your kids in the family budget, include them in expenses, too. Various lessons, sports and extracurricular activities can cost a lot of money. If your child wants to get involved in something like this, they need to realize the cost and do what they can to help out. If they're old enough to do paid work (our daughter occasionally works for our friends or her grandparents to earn a little spending money) let them pay for a portion of the expense (such as for equipment or uniforms). This helps not only to save money but also to encourage your kids to think before committing to an activity.
And if you have adult children living with you like many of us do nowadays, same goes. They can and should pay their own way. This means if they have a cell phone, cable in their room, etc. they should be footing their own bill. You can even charge them rent (albeit a smaller amount than they would pay if they were living on their own). Although you're helping them out by letting them live at home, the reality is they need to learn about real life, and that means paying bills.
What do you think of our saving money tips? Agree? Disagree? Have your own tips to add? Leave your comment below!
You might also enjoy this post: How to Help Your Budget Recover After the Holidays.