Saving money. It seems like it should be easy, doesn't it? Just sock some extra money away each month and voila! But what exactly is "extra money?" If you're like me, it seems like every cent you earn is spent long before it hits the bank, and usually just on essentials like gas, groceries, rent, water, and electricity.
According to a recent study, two-thirds of us live paycheck to paycheck. That means that if our next paycheck is delayed for whatever reason, or we're faced with surprise expenses like car repairs or visits to the doctor, we won't be able to pay our bills.
That's why a healthy savings is so important—it can be the one thing that stands between us and insolvency. But how do you start saving money when it seems like there's no money to save?
Well, here are a few sure-fire ways to help you identify the "extra money" you earn, and start putting it away for that rainy day.
• Create a Budget—this is the foundation for saving money. Write down how much you earn every month, and then list your expenses. Doing this will help you identify that "extra money." Maybe you can put away $3 every day instead of going to Starbucks. Think about it, that $3 a day adds up to around $90 a month, which adds up to roughly $1000 a year.
• Set Goals — Decide why you want to save money. Maybe it's just to create that cushion between yourself and insolvency that we talked about earlier. Or maybe you need a new car, or a dishwasher, or a wide-screen, HD TV. You should give yourself long-term and short-term goals. Buying the dishwasher, would be a short-term goal, while saving for early retirement might be a long-term goal.
• Create a Separate Savings Account — It's a fact for most of us that if we have "extra money" we'll want to spend it. If you just mentally set money aside in your checking account, it's so much easier to say, "Ah, it's all right, I'll put it back next payday." Separating your savings from your spending money creates a psychological barrier.
• Make it Automatic — Whether you're setting the money aside in a dedicated savings account at your bank, or stuffing it into an extra cookie jar in the kitchen cupboard, make it as automatic as possible. Your bank can automatically move the money to your savings account every payday. This is the best way because you never even see the money, and won't even remember that you have it. If you're using the old cookie jar, put the money in it immediately.
Yes, you might have to sacrifice a few things in order to save money, but the peace of mind will be worth it. To learn more about how you can slash your spending and put more money in your bank account,