Now is a great time to look at your personal finances, assess your spending, and develop some new habits to boost your savings. To help you jump start your savings this year, check out our “21 Ways to Save More in 2021”.
Having adequate savings will not only help you reach your goals in life; it can bring you peace of mind knowing you are prepared for unexpected expenses.
There are three types of savings you want to have:
- Set Aside Savings – for short-term goals
- Emergency Savings – for the unexpected
- Retirement Savings – for the long-term
Whether you are trying to start building a savings habit or are on your way to creating a financial cushion, we hope the tips and ideas will help you spend less and save more.
Set a savings goal. Whether it is creating an emergency fund or setting money aside for a kitchen remodel, it helps to have something specific in mind to help build a saving habit. If you have little or no emergency savings. Start there. Work towards saving enough to cover at least 2-3 months of living expenses.
Track your spending. Knowing where your money is going will help determine how much you can save. Town & Country’s Money Management tool in Online banking can help you scrutinize your spending habits. Look at essential expenses (mortgage/rent, utilities, transportation, food) and non-essential expenses (take out, streaming services, gym membership). Review your spending to see what you can cut back on or cancel to find savings.
Make a budget. A budget helps you save because it keeps your income and expenses top of mind. You’ll know how much you can spend in different expense categories each month, what you have to work with for discretionary expenses, and what spending areas to evaluate and adjust.
Cut back and be ruthless. Making some extreme changes for a while can help free up extra cash and jump start your savings. Consider cutting your family’s hair, use everything you can already in your house, get rid of paid television and switch to a digital antenna, skip take-out and cook at home, quit drinking or smoking.
Sleep on it before you buy. Shopping online has become the norm for many. So, to avoid impulse buying, impose a 24-hour rule before tapping the “buy” button after placing an item in your shopping cart. Chances are you may not really want the item the next day.
Plan your meals. Meal planning for the week ahead will help you know exactly what to buy at the grocery store. Start by taking an inventory of your cupboards, frig and freezer and use what is in the house to build a weekly menu and shopping list.
Skip the bottled water. Although bottled water is convenient, using a refillable bottle will not only save you money ($100 or more per year, per person), but will help the environment. Buy a water filter if you want to make your tap water even better.
Cancel subscriptions you are not using. Chances are you have been home more over the past few months and know what services you are using and which ones you aren’t. Now may be the time to cancel those magazine or streaming service subscriptions and memberships to shopping clubs or the gym and move that money into savings.
Commit to no-spend days. One way to save more is to spend less. Team up with your family and commit to a no-spend day each week or weekend each month. Focus on eating food already at home, finding free entertainment or skipping shopping. If you are feeling extra adventurous, go for a whole week.
Shop around to save. You may be able to save money each month switching to a different insurance company, cell phone or internet provider. Be sure to take advantage of promotions and coupons, compare prices and use price match features to save even more.
Look for deals when you shop online. Save money when you shop by signing up for apps like Honey, Capital One Shopping, Swagbucks, Shopkick, Ibotta and others. These apps search thousands of retailers to make sure you are getting the best deal. Some even provide cashback.
Be organized. Keep track of bills. Try not to lose things. Return items that don’t work for refunds. Staying organized will help you save more money than you might realize.
Automate your savings. Every time you get paid, schedule a recurring amount of money to be transferred from your checking account to a linked savings account. An even better idea is to have part of your paycheck direct deposited into a savings account. Out of sight, out of mind.
Set up auto pay for your bills. Have your bills automatically paid from your checking account each month. It not only saves time but will help avoid ever getting a late fee. Access bill pay through Town & Country’s online banking service and pay one-time or recurring bills from your desktop, laptop or mobile device.
Save your “Found Money”. A great way to boost your savings it to tuck away any unexpected cash in your savings account(s). Whether it is a birthday gift, insurance rebate, tax refund, inheritance or annual raise, plan to save it and watch your money grow.
Boost 401K contributions. Next time you get a raise, pay yourself first and bump up your 401K contribution by 1 %. Make sure you take advantage of any employer match. You’re leaving free money on the table if you don’t.
Pay off high-interest debt. Eliminating high-interest debt like credit cards will improve your cash flow and allow you to save more. If you have balances on multiple credit cards, pay off the one with the highest interest rate first. When the highest interest card is paid off, shift to the next highest.
Refinancing your debt. With record low interest rates, you might be able to save some cash by refinancing your existing loans. Check the interest you are paying now on your mortgage, auto loans, recreation loans and credit cards at other financial institutions and reach out to the credit union to see if we can help you save by refinancing.
Check your credit score. The higher your credit score the lower the cost to borrow money and the more you can save. Here are some ways to boost your credit score:
- Pay your bills on time, every time
- Use less than 30% of your credit limit
- Maintain long credit relationships
- Use a mix of credit types (auto loan, credit card, etc.)
- Don’t open new credit cards you don’t need
Sell what you don’t need. Clean out your home each season and sell what you are not using through an online marketplace or yard sale. Stash the earnings in your savings account.
Get the whole family involved. Make it fun. Set goals together and work towards your big dreams as a team. Schedule regular “money talk” meetings to share savings ideas and how you are doing on reaching your goals.