Do you struggle to put away even a small amount of money each month? If so, there’s no reason to be discouraged because the majority of working adults say they have the same problem. Is there some easy way to instill a habit of spending into your financial lifestyle?
The good news is that anyone who earns money, no matter how little, can save. But, more important, they can learn how to make the act of “stowing away” a bit of their earnings a regular habit. Then, once saving becomes an automatic thing, it’s much easier to ramp up the amounts when earnings rise.
Here are five ways that can help you add something, anything, to your savings account each month.
Start With a Ridiculously Low Amount
Whether you’re a college student with a part-time job or a working adult with a very low income, you can use this method to create a saving habit. It’s not a new technique. People have been using it for centuries to discipline themselves and learn how to save.
It’s strikingly simple. Open a savings account at a bank. If you already have a checking account somewhere, consider adding a new account at the same bank. Choose one day per month when you will make a deposit into the savings account.
Be strict with yourself about putting money into the account every month on that exact day. The amount does not matter, and it need not be the same amount each time.
The magic of this method is that, while you might not build up much money over the course of the first year, you will definitely learn how to save. Later, when your income goes up or when circumstances improve, you’ll have a built-in habit that will serve you well.
Sign Up For Payroll Savings At Work
If your employer offers payroll savings, sign up for it and begin with a low amount for regular deposits, perhaps two or three percent of each check. It’s important to start small so as not to shock your financial stability. This is especially true if you are just getting by.
The main thing is to sign up for the plan, even if you can only put one percent of each check into the savings account connected with it.
Use the Envelope System For Budgeting
Here’s an old, effective idea that many people love. When you receive your paychecks, take out your monthly or bi-weekly discretionary (spending) money in cash. Allocate the money into one day per envelope. This is a great way to regulate spending.
But, before allocating that cash to the various packets, remove one or two dollars from each one. What you can afford to remove from each envelope should immediately be put into a savings account.
Download a Savings App
If you are tech-savvy and tend to use credit or debit cards often, download one of the free savings apps to your phone. Each time you make a purchase online or at an in-person store, the app will round the amount up and tell you how much change goes to your savings account. Some of these apps are designed to immediately deposit the money into savings accounts for you.
Try the “Two-Percent Rule”
If you’re not living paycheck to paycheck but still struggle to save each month, use an old stand-by approach: the two-percent method. It’s sort of like creating a payroll savings plan yourself if your company doesn’t have one.
Simply put, set aside two percent of any money you earn or receive from any source. That means job earnings, birthday gifts, cash rewards from products you buy, and more. Two percent doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up fast.