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See a Penney - Pick it Up

See a Penney - Pick it Up

It seems like one of the hardest things for us to do is save money. In the classes I teach I often hear things like:

“Save? How can I save when I don’t have any money?”

“I’d like to save, but there isn’t anything left after I pay bills, get gas and buy groceries.”

“I do save, but then I end up getting into the money for something.”

Of course, it is true that you have to have money in order to save money. But, there are things we can do to make it more likely that we are able to put a little bit aside and keep it there.

Start with a small goal. This sounds crazy, but I have had people start good, solid savings habits by setting aside $1.00 each pay period. They didn’t leave it at $1.00, once they realized there were things they could do to start putting money aside, that amount increased. They started a new habit, because they saw how it would help them get the things they wanted in life.

Everyone’s favorite word – budget. I know it isn’t always easy, but having a solid budget is the first step of reaching your financial goals. When you are working on your budget, review your monthly bank statement or online banking information to really understand where your money is going. Look for any way that you can reduce spending, so you can increase savings. Start small with one thing and work your way up from there. The point is to dig around in your finances and be creative with ways to save.

Some ideas:

Do large grocery shopping trips as opposed to frequent, small trips,

Reduce electrical usage by turning down the temperature,

Save on gas for your car by consolidating trips or carpooling, or

Lower water bills by using flow restrictors.

Another tip for saving money is to keep your savings and your checking account separate. I like to take it one step further and put my savings in a completely different bank. In addition, I do not have a debit card attached to that savings account. That means, if I want that money, I have to drive to the bank to get it. For me that is a huge barrier to accessing that money.

If you have direct deposit, have your savings amount automatically deposited into your savings account each pay period. This way, you never have to see or touch the money.

Use cash. It is really easy to swipe your debit card or your credit card. Both may end up costing you more than you want to spend. If you are out and see an item you want, but do not have enough cash to buy, you can always go home and get the card. Not having it available will help you determine how much you really need or want the item.

Finally, make an effort to reduce any credit card debt that you are paying. If you are carrying a balance on the card, stop charging. Paying interest means you are giving your money away to someone else. Keep it for the things that are important to you.

As always, if you need help saving or coming up with a solid financial plan for your money, contact a certified credit counselor. The counseling can help you with debt consolidation options, debt management plans, or even talk to you about bankruptcy.

Published May 23, 2011.