Savings Plan: A Guide to Managing and Saving Money

FT Contributor  | 

Here are a few money-saving tips aimed at helping you discover how to start saving. Each section contains detailed budgeting tips and money management tips all aimed at honing your financial acumen for the future.

Set a Savings Goal

The best way to save money is by setting a savings goal. After all, it’s difficult to get somewhere when you don’t know where you’re going. You don’t need to go big with this one. In fact, simple savings goals are often better than a larger, grandiose money-saving plan.

If, for instance, your objective is to become a millionaire, you’ll likely find yourself struggling with failure before long. However, if you begin with a basic goal like saving $50 a week, you can actually achieve that within a reasonable amount of time.

Whatever specific goal you set for yourself, make sure it’s just that — specific. A nebulous, fluctuating goal is going to give you room to make excuses and delays. Setting your sights on a firm, achievable objective is key when starting to save money.

Plan a Budget

If you want to figure out how to save money fast, you’re going to want to have a solid budget in the place first. While there are many easy ways to save money in theory, most of them won’t pan out well if you don’t start with a solid foundation.

Start by creating a comprehensive personal budget that takes into account what your income and expenses are. Make sure that this is broken down in detail.

This will give you a full grasp of your finances and will enable you to begin to find ways to save money within your budget.

Reduce Spending

A first step when it comes to finding money to save within your budget is to reduce your spending wherever possible. The “wherever possible” part is critical here. If you begin to slash and burn every expense in sight without a thought to your own needs and lifestyle, you’re likely to find yourself depressed and discouraged in no time.

Instead, try to cultivate a healthy money mindset as you go about trimming your spending. Start by identifying your wants versus your needs.

Of course, your wants are often the best place to find extra cash to save. If you find, for example, that you have five different streaming subscriptions, it’s easy to reduce that number to one or two at a time and squirrel away that extra cash into your savings.

Obviously, your needs are going to be harder to reduce — and that’s okay. However, you can often find ways to lower your needs in small yet significant ways.

For instance, you can try to reduce your grocery budget. Just make sure you don’t simply reduce the budgeted number and assume you’ll figure it out during your next trip to the grocery store. Instead, start by creating a meal plan that is tailored to your new, lower grocery budget. Keep in mind as you do this that it’s better to have a higher budgeted amount that you stick to than a lower one that you surpass on a regular basis.

Monitor Your Money

Another good habit that budgeting helps with is monitoring your money. When you have a budget, you have a firm grasp on where your money stands. This makes it easier to spot discrepancies and unaccounted for shifts in your finances.

Online banking is an incredibly helpful tool when it comes to keeping tabs on your finances. It helps you track your spending and can provide a way to identify things like recurring charges you may not have realized were taking place behind the scenes.

Automatic Payment

Another way to save money is by avoiding late fees. This can be easily done by setting up automatic payments. If you have your bills paid automatically it will keep your budget on track and give you an accurate picture of how much money you have left to work with, all without racking up late fees that will eat into your available savings.

Account for Emergencies

Remember to save for both the short and the long term. In other words, as you go about setting up and trimming your budget in search of extra money to save, make sure that you’re putting money in both short-term and long-term savings.

The former can help you cover the costs of unforeseen emergencies, such as an urgent care visit or unforeseen car repair. If you have money set aside to offset these expenses, you’re less likely to dip into your long-term savings in order to make ends meet.

Expand Your Income

If you’ve combed over your budget and applied all of these money-saving tips and you’re still coming up short of your savings goals, you may want to consider picking up a side hustle.

The modern, technological world has made freelance and contractor work easily available in numerous industries. Grabbing a few small jobs on the side can be a great way to bring in some extra money to bolster your savings.

Decide How You Want to Save

Setting savings goals and setting up a trim, manageable budget are both foundational elements to creating a sustainable savings plan.

Once you’ve set those up, though, there’s still one more thing to consider: how are you going to save your money? Just because you found ways to budget in your savings plan doesn’t mean it’s going to automatically happen. When the rubber hits the road, and you’re standing there with your paycheck in hand, you may find yourself tempted to redirect that money into other, less financially savvy options.

In other words, make sure that you’ve found the best way to save your money each month.

If you find that you’re naturally disciplined, you may be able to follow your budget without a second thought.

If, on the other hand, you find that you struggle with having leftover savings, consider trying the Pay Yourself First method. This, in essence, merely means setting aside your savings first and then taking care of your budgeted expenses. Another option is to create money challenges for yourself, like saving “X amount” each week or not spending any discretionary money for a month.

Learning to Save Your Money

Setting savings goals, trimming your budget, and setting up good savings habits and routines are all part of learning how to save money. If you can master these basic financial skills upfront, you’ll be putting yourself in the best possible situation to sustain long-term financial success for the foreseeable future.


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