We all wish we had a pot of gold that never became empty, so no matter what catastrophe or what fun we had, there would always be enough cash to make our way through. For some people that is the way it is, but for most of us, an unexpected cash demand is usually a big strain on our resources. To help us deal with unexpected expenses or sudden drops in income, we all should have a rainy day fund, or in plain words, savings in the bank. But it’s not always easy to find money to put in the bank. Most of us think we have to put big chunks of money aside, but just as a puddle begins with a few drops of rain, our savings can grow a little bit at a time. The only challenge is to find these “little bits” and aim them at our savings account. Here are three things you can do each month to help your savings account grow:
First: Plan to save the same as you plan to pay recurring bills. Make a budget, be realistic as to how much of your income is necessary to live, how much you need on top of that to live comfortably, and how much of what you earn is used for all the other things which are neither necessary nor contribute to your quality of life. Go over your monthly expenses for 2 or 3 months and try to identify areas where you are wasting money. Then go over these areas and see which could be pared down or eliminated without changing your enjoyment of life. If you see, for example, that you spend $35 per month on bank fees and service charges, see your banker to discuss whether you could amalgamate accounts or apply for a package discount that could reduce what you pay in fees. If you succeed, and lower your fees by even $10 per month, put that amount into your savings. It’s not a lot, but $120 extra in your savings every year for 10 years from just this one small change is very painless. Check all your recurring expenses to see if there are areas that can me trimmed just a bit and add this to your savings. Contact your telephone/cellular supplier for package deals and discounts, see if your cable/satellite TV plan is providing you with exactly what you want, or if you are being charged for channels that you don’t even watch. If you can save a bit each month add that to your savings as well.
Second: Shop online for Christmas and birthday gifts to avoid last minute impulse (therefore expensive) buys. If you search the clearance or outlet areas of many stores you can get quality gifts at discount prices. If you can, add things to you shopping basket and leave them sit at least overnight so you can go back and review whether you still consider the gift appropriate and a good deal after sleeping on it. Before shopping on line browse the internet for coupon and discount codes for each of the stores you plan to shop at. With more and more stores turning to online sales as a bigger share of their market they are making efforts to encourage online shoppers. Before you go to brick and mortar stores, you should also check for online printable coupons, which are quite commonly available for many of the popular stores. Even a small discount is worth the cost of printing a sheet of paper!
Third: Recognize that saving money on grocery shopping has more to do with being organized than it does with cutting down how much you buy. Know what food items you use on a regular basis and how much you can practically stockpile. If you use canned tomatoes or canned fruit once or twice each week, it would not be foolish to buy a case of 24 cans when it goes on sale for a good price. But if you use something rarely, buying it in bulk will likely lead to it being thrown out or given away. Have an organized pantry so you can see at a glance what you are getting low on, what items are not being used up and what items you tend to use continuously. If an item goes on sale for 30% off and has a good shelf life, buy enough to realize a good amount of cash saving on it, and add this amount to your savings account. Keep a small notebook in your purse with all the items you buy regularly and their price, so you can recognize if a sale price is really a good buy. Update the list as often as you can, especially if you notice regular prices creeping up as sales are even more important then. Buy one get one free sales are common, and can really add up. If you plan your menus around the weekly sales you can trim a fair amount from your grocery budget. Make a list before you leave home, but use the grocery flyers to help you choose what items you will need to fill your meal plans for the week.
Invest a bit of time into creating a savings plan which is fed from your regular spending, and you will see how fast you can make it grow without pain!