During times of uncertainty it can be difficult to know what financial steps to take. How can we make financial plans if we don't have all the information we need? Well, sometimes we just have to move forward with what we do know.
First, evaluate your savings. Do you have enough money set-aside for emergencies or unexpected expenses? While we don't know what will happen in the economy in the near future, having the flexibility to respond to needs without borrowing money is a good financial practice.
If you don't have emergency savings, now is the time to start saving. Different strategies work for different people. Which of the following strategies sounds like it would work for you?
- Collect change or $5 bills in a visible spot. Many people find it motivating to watch money grow in a jar. Put a picture of what you're saving for near the jar to keep yourself focused on your goal.
- Some financial institutions will round-up your purchases and deposit the change to your savings account. For example, if you spend $9.53 with your debit card, $10.00 will come out of your checking account and 47 cents will be deposited in your savings. Check if you can do this at your credit union or bank.
- Have a "spend nothing week." Try to go all week without spending any money and put the money saved into savings. You'll become more aware of what you spend money on as the week progresses.
- Use money such as gifts, tax refunds, work bonuses or salary increases at work to fund your savings.
Also, consider putting your savings on automatic. The best thing about automatic saving is when you make a decision to do so, then it just happens over and over again!
- Every month, have your bank or credit union transfer a fixed amount (like $25) from your checking account to a savings or investment account. Talk to your local bank or credit union to set this up.
- Have your employer deduct a certain amount from your paycheck and transfer it to a savings account. Ask your HR representative for more details.
- If your employer offers a retirement account, sign up and put in at least the minimum contribution to receive any matches they may offer. Ask your HR representative for more details.
- If your employer doesn't offer a retirement account, start saving with myRA, a new retirement savings account from the United States Department of the Treasury. The account features no cost or fees, no complicated investment options, and no risk of losing money. Learn more at www.myRA.gov.
When you can't make savings automatic, having a reminder can be helpful. Set a savings goal at America Saves website, and receive free, motivating resources to keep you saving money. I especially like their text messages that remind me of my saving goal. #ASW17