Challenge of the Week: "Find Money to Save"

A woman jumps hurdles at a track meet.

Budgets are tight. There never seems to be enough "extra" to set aside for an emergency, let alone a purchase that isn't needed right now.  You may understand the importance of saving for big ticket items like new appliances, home repairs or even a new car, but how do you squeeze out a few extra bucks each payday to set aside?  Here are a few tips for finding money right now to save!

Pay Yourself First

Most financial experts agree that the best way to save more money is to pay yourself first - even if it is only $5 or $10 a week.  One way to ensure that the amount you designate for savings makes it to that account is to have it automatically withdrawn from your paycheck.  Many employers offer savings plans that allow employees to deduct a predetermined amount from their paycheck (like they do with you taxes and insurances), and have it put into a separate savings account.  For many people, never having that money in their hands ensures that it does not get spent on other necessities.  If your employer does not offer this service, you can have the amount automatically deducted by your bank and placed into a savings account there.

Designate Windfalls to Savings

Expecting a small raise or bonus this year?  Getting a tax refund?  Did you win $5.00 from the lottery?  These are all windfalls of extra cash that can be used to build some savings.  Whenever you find yourself the recipient of unexpected cash, take it straight to the bank and deposit it into your savings.

Look for Overcharges

Can't seem to find any extra money to save? Try some of these ideas:

  • Share the ride. Try carpooling to and from work with a coworker. You can save on gas; plus build a friendship in traffic.
  • Check your service agreements. Are you being charged for a private phone number you don't need, or more GB of data than you can possibly use? What about those premium channels on TV - do you watch them often enough to warrant the cost? These are all small expenses that when eliminated free some of your income for savings.
  • Save your change. Yes, those coins do add up. Start throwing your spare change into a jar each evening and keep it set aside for savings, You may be surprised at how quickly that change adds up into hundreds of dollars.
  • Eat in more often. One of the biggest expenses for most families is eating out.  Whether you head to a local restaurant or simply pick up burgers or pizza on the way home from work, eating out can cost four to five times what cooking at home does.  Stay at home for just one extra meal per month and watch your savings account grow by $500 to $1,000 a year!
  • Check your insurance coverage.  You never want to skimp on insurance, but make sure that you aren't over insured either. As cars get older, you may have some coverage you may no longer need. Or maybe you don't drive that third car much. Be sure to tell your agent so he can adjust that premium!  In many cases, a consumer can save 15-40% on their insurance simply by using all of the discounts available to them.

Saving for big-ticket items doesn’t have to mean giving up on all spending. But it does require taking a careful look at your current expenses and finding ways to trim your costs for more money into savings. Once you find extra money, saving it is easy.