We all know we need to save money, but many people struggle to establish and maintain a savings plan. As a financial coach I hear a lot of reasons why people can’t save: “I don’t make enough money to save…my children need …. (fill in the blank)…I never have anything left over after I pay my bills,” and so on. But could it really be that saving money is just not a priority?
The first step to saving money is to make it a top priority. In order to do that, you need to decide what your life goals are: do you want to purchase a home, save money for school, or go on a vacation? Maybe you just want to have enough money left over at the end of the month to go out to dinner?
Next: Make a budget. I know, some people dread that word. So call it whatever you like. We call it a “Savings & Spending Plan.” Notice that savings comes first.
There are many ways to budget. You can download a budgeting app on your smart phone, use paper and pencil, or use the Savings & Spending Plan feature on http://www.findfinancialfreedom.org. It doesn’t matter what you use – just start using something!
Now that you’ve decided on a budgeting system, it’s time to figure out how much to save. In order to “find” money to save, you need to know what you’re spending money on. To do this, track all household expenses for 30 days. Most people are shocked to see how much money they spend on non-essential items.
Once you can see where your money is going, it’s time to decide how YOU want to save it and spend it. List important expenses first, such as: housing, utilities, food, and transportation. Don’t forget to list “SAVINGS” as an important expense. You may only be able to save $5 or $10 a month at first. That’s OK – it’s a start. Lastly, assign a dollar amount for each category based upon your 30 days of expense tracking.
Remember, it doesn’t matter how much money you make – it matters how you spend what you make. Commit to taking control of your money today!