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3 ways to save money on a tight budget

You know it’s important to save for your future - maybe for an emergency, a down payment on a house, or your retirement. But if you’re just scraping buy, saving toward your goal can seem like an unlikely dream.

As we like to say at America Saves, “Start small, think big.” Small amounts saved each month can add up to big savings over the year. And when you add in compound interest, the amount of money you save will actually grow over time.

These three tips will help you to painlessly cut spending in order to grow your savings.

1. Take full advantage of employer matches to your retirement account

If you’re having trouble making ends meet, you may have opted out of contributing to your retirement plan. But many employers match retirement savings contributions, so if you contribute 5 percent of your pay, they’ll contribute an additional 5 percent. If you’re not taking full advantage of your employer’s match, you’re leaving money on the table. Be sure to ask your employer what their policy is, and ensure that you’re getting every dollar available to you.

2. Participate in a local Investment Development Account (or IDA) program

If your income is low, you may be eligible to participate in an IDA program where your savings are matched. In return for attending financial education sessions and planning to save for a home, education, or business, you typically receive an additional $1 for every $1 you save. That means $25 saved each month could become several hundred dollars by the end of the year.  

Find an IDA program near you.

3. Wait 24 hours before buying non-essential items

If you’re spending more or almost as much as you make, it’s time to cut back. One simple trick to reducing spending is the “24 hour rule.” For any non-essential purchases (don’t do this for groceries or gas), wait at least 24 hours from the time you first see the product until you purchase it. So the next time you see a great deal on Amazon, add it to your wish list and sleep on it. You’ll be surprised at how many things you end up not purchasing after the initial impulse wears off.


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