America Saves Blog
Tips, advice, and the latest news from the savings world.
By: America Saves
July 30th, 2010
With 2010 half over, you may find yourself nowhere closer to your financial goals than you were on January 1st. Yet, year after year, saving money and getting out of debt remain one of the most popular resolutions. The question remains – what’s stopping you? Take action today and work towards your financial goal by “starting small and thinking big.”
Start Small: What’s the secret to saving? Spending less than you earn is the key to saving money and avoiding debt. By making small and manageable changes to your lifestyle, you can further decrease your expenses. Tackle a few spending ‘vices’ at a time rather than radically altering your lifestyle. Some easy ways to save:
- Rethink the “essentials.” The latest-and-greatest cell phone, video game, or computers are nice to have, but by no means necessities. Buy what you need, not what you want.
- Turn saving into a game – roll your spare change, mail in rebates, sell unwanted items – do whatever you can to get closer to your savings goal!
- Save automatically. Have a portion of your paycheck (as little as $25) transferred automatically to your savings. Chances are you’ll never even notice the difference.
Think Big: Individuals with a savings plan are 50% more successful than those who don’t. Take the opportunity to join America Saves and create your own simple savings plan for free. America Saves members also have access to the “My Savings Tracker” which can help you track progress towards your savings goal. Need help figuring out what to save for?
- Create a $500 or more emergency fund to meet unexpected expenses.
- Save for Holiday presents rather than relying on credit.
- Pay off credit cards and other high-interest debt.
This post is part of the America Saves Kick Start Your Savings Summer. Each week we'll focus on saving for a particular savings goal or how to save on everyday expenditures.To kick start your own savings click here.
Why do we save? Explain to your children that we save in order to get things that we will want in the future, but also to get things that we will need in the future. It’s hard to think about the future when you’re young because to most children their idea of “the future” is next week, tomorrow, or even five minutes from now. So, does a three year-old understand the concept of long-term saving? Absolutely, positively not. Or does a ten year-old understand the concept of saving? Absolutely, positively not. As a result, most adults in America don’t understand the concept of saving either. We have a very low success rate of saving in this country.
Saving money and attending college are two activities that are typically NOT thought of together. In fact, many college students might tell you that they don’t have enough money to buy a pizza on a Friday night, let alone to add to a savings account. But what if we rethink the traditional notion of “savings” to make it a goal that is a bit more realistic for this cash-strapped chapter of life?
People know that having an emergency fund and money set aside to purchase larger items is important. Even so, turning that knowledge into action can be a challenge when daily choices consume both attention and funds. That's why at the end of each month, you can end up without enough left over to save. Savers are a maverick breed. They maintain better credit scores, pay bills on time, don't pay for costly bank fees and have less stress than their spender counterparts. This article will highlight how to shift away from being a victim of savings barriers and toward bringing life to a savings plan.
By David Bakke
David Bakke writes about money topics like saving money, planning for retirement, smart shopping, and building wealth on the Money Crashers personal finance blog.
If your employer offers an individual 401k retirement plan, you should be contributing to it unless you fall into a very small exception category. The only time I would advise against participating in a company-sponsored 401k plan is if these contributions would interfere with your ability to pay monthly bills or get out of debt. Don’t invest in your future at the expense of your current situation. But if you can afford to make even a small contribution to the plan, go for it. Now that you're considering your personal retirement planning, let's address a crucial question: How much should you contribute to your 401k fund? Is 1% enough? Should it be 5%? Or 10%? Should the amount of your contribution depend on your age? Consider these five key factors.