If you are behind on your savings goals, know that you are not alone. Building (or replenishing) your savings has the potential to be a long and challenging process, especially if saving doesn’t come naturally to you. The truth is that, while it might seem impossible to add any more money to your savings funds, there are several ways to increase your savings with very little effort.
Set a Specific Goal to Increase Your Savings
First things first, it’s critical that you set a specific goal as to how much money you want to save and within what timeframe. Without a goal, you’ll be more likely to give up on or rationalize saving less than you originally planned. With a goal, you’ll be able to see the end result play out in your life, even before you’ve reached it.
While I recommend determining the amount you will save, I’d like to encourage you to take it a little further by also including a reason for that specific amount as well as the timeframe within you will (hopefully) reach that goal. For example, I want to save:
- $10,000 by 2020 so that my family can purchase a travel trailer.
- $15,000 within the next year so that I will be okay for three months if I lose my job.
- $1,000 over the next six months so that I can cover my deductible if I have a major medical expense.
Of course, the reasons will be specific to you and your family situation, but by detailing that reason at the beginning, you’ll be more likely to stick with the plan when life gets a little harder. When your friends call and want you to go out to dinner, you’ll remember why you are saying no. When your family wants big, expensive holiday gifts, you’ll be able to remind them of that long-term goal and, hopefully, stay on track.
One of the easiest ways to save money is to automate your finances. Not only can automation help to increase your savings, but it can also save you money as far as interest rates on loans and missed bill payments.
The first (and easiest) way to save money is to have your paycheck and other sources of income deposited automatically into your account. Of course, it’s tempting to have the entire amount go to your checking account first, but if you have a savings goal, it’s fairly easy to have your direct deposit set up to have a specific amount of that income diverted into a savings account you cannot touch quite as easily.
By “paying your savings account first”, you might just find that you don’t even notice the “missing” money and are more likely to leave it alone for its designated purpose.
This works well if you have income coming in from multiple sources as well. For example, one of my clients receives direct deposits from both Social Security and an employer. Since the income from her employer is enough to cover her monthly expenses, she has a portion of her Social Security check deposited directly into a savings account and the rest into an investment account. In doing so, she’s been able to amass a significant amount money to use for emergencies, home renovation projects and vacations and she doesn’t miss that income from month to month.
Setting up recurring savings transfers between your checking and savings accounts is another great strategy for automating and, therefore, increasing your likelihood to save. Additionally, many banks offer a discount on loan interest if your payment is withdrawn automatically from a savings account. Check with your bank to find out if you’re eligible for either of these benefits.
It might seem simplistic but taking the time to set up automatic payments for your monthly bills has the potential to save you a lot of money in the long-term.
I don’t know about you, but there are some bills that come at the most inopportune times, like while I’m on vacation, dealing with a family crisis, or otherwise distracted by situations in my everyday life. All too frequently in my young adult years, I’d set a bill aside, planning to get back to it later, and then miss the payment altogether, resulting in a late fee.
By automating my monthly payments, I’ve eliminated all those late fees and have saved myself a good amount of money in doing so.
You can set up automatic bill payments with the creditors you owe OR by enabling your bank’s bill pay service. My suggestion is to pick whatever method you prefer and then stick with it.
Increase Your Income
Another opportunity for increasing your savings comes with increasing your income. If you have the option of asking your boss for a raise, that may be a great place to start. Otherwise, you may want to consider taking on a part time job or starting a side hustle.
One of my favorite strategies for saving comes with those incremental pay raises over the years. As we can typically live on the amount we’ve been making, when one of us receives a slight bump in pay, we redirect that additional income straight into our savings account. It’s not always a significant amount of money, but every little bit helps.
If you do end up with additional income gracing your bank account, be sure to have a plan for it. Otherwise you’ll just have more money, more expenses, and will still be struggling to increase your savings.
Lower Your Expenses
It’s easy to get caught up in the month-to-month of living and forget to look at the different things we are spending money on that may no longer be necessary.
Take the time to look at your budget, line by line. If you don’t categorize your expenses each month, then go back through your account statements and look for any expenses that may be more than you’ve budgeted for or completely unnecessary altogether.
Some to consider might include:
- Groceries (would meal planning be helpful?)
- Eating Out (could you limit it to once per week?)
- Cable/Television (do you watch all of the channels you are subscribed to?)
- Netflix/Hulu/Other Subscriptions (how long has it been since you’ve used it?)
- Phone Bills (are you actually using that landline?)
- Car Insurance (should you shop around for different options?)
As always, your expenses and the things you are willing to cut back on will be specific to you and your family. Take a look back at that goal you set, though, and determine whether it might be worth cutting an expense for the purpose of achieving it.
Get an Accountability Partner
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have some sort of accountability through the process of achieving your goal, whether that be goal to increase your savings or any other goal you might have.
If you have a friend or partner that’s willing to join you in that journey, take the time to be specific with your goal and the why of it all. Additionally, it might be a good idea to let them in on some of the reasons you might get sidetracked and not achieve your goal. By relaying this information, your accountability partner should be able to encourage you to stay on track.
Struggling to find an accountability partner? Head over to Facebook to check out the Moms Managing Money accountability group. We’d love to be able to support you!