America Saves Week is an annual event that encourages Americans to improve their financial health by saving more. The week provides resources to help Americans learn more about saving effectively. Sometimes, when money is tight, saving may seem impossible. But the notion behind America Saves Week is to encourage everyone to save — and teach them how to, even when it seems as though there’s no money to save.
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Everyone Can — And Should — Save
One of the main tenets of America Saves Week is that any saving is good saving. Saving doesn’t have to mean putting away 20 percent of your paycheck every week. That’s not a reasonable or feasible goal for everyone — and that’s okay! If all you can swing is emptying your loose change into a jar every day, you’re still saving! It’s easy to brush off something like that and think it’s not worth your time, but if you make it a habit, you’ll be surprised to see how quickly it can add up.
Set Savings Goals
The first step in becoming a more effective saver is to set a savings goal. Once again, this can be as simple or complex as suits you and your situation. Savings goals can range anywhere from saving for a new outfit to saving to buy a home. There are no right or wrong goals, and you don’t need to set certain goals because others have or because you feel as though you’re “supposed” to be saving for something.
Make a Plan
Savers who make a plan are twice as likely to reach their goals.
Take note that setting the goal and making the plan are two different things.
For example, saying “I’m going to save to go on vacation,” is setting a goal, not making a plan. To make a plan, you’ll want to set specific, actionable steps that will allow you to reach that goal. Using the same example, making a plan would be saying, “I’m going to put away $20 each week for the next three months.” Having these clear-cut steps will help you hold yourself accountable and keep you motivated to reach your goals.
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Check Your Budget
Have a goal you want to set but don’t think you’ll be able to save enough? Take a look through your budget. Most of us have places in our monthly budget where we can cut back. If you haven’t done so recently, detail your income and expenses. Go through it line by line. And look not only at whether each item is necessary, but whether how much you’re spending on each item is necessary.
For example, do you have an expensive cable package but find yourself watching Netflix more often? Or are you paying for unlimited data on your cellphone plan but not using that much? When you’re able to cut back, you can use the money you’ve freed up to add to your savings and help you reach your goals.
Automate Your Savings
One of the easiest ways to save is to set up automatic transfers to your savings account. This can be done through your bank from your checking account to your savings account or through your employer, with a certain percentage of your paycheck going to savings each pay period before you even see the money.
The latter can be especially beneficial because you won’t even miss the money and can begin to think of your paycheck as what it is after the deduction has come out. However, saving automatically comes with a few caveats. If you’ve set it up to take from your checking account, make sure you know when that money is coming out of your account. You’ll want to ensure that you have enough money in your account when it comes out to avoid overdraft fees.
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Additionally, it’s easy to get complacent in your savings goals with automated saving — you set it up once and don’t think about it again. However, you may want to be upping your contribution on a regular basis. Therefore, if you do automate your savings, be sure to check in frequently to see if you’re saving at the rate you’d like to be and if you should change your contribution.
Save the Extra
Many of us are more likely to save when we receive a windfall than we are to regularly put away money from our paycheck. While saving regularly is also important, take advantage of this mindset.
Whether it’s your tax refund, an inheritance, or gift money, stashing away that extra cash can be a great way to boost your savings in a hurry.
Because this is money that you’re receiving on top of your regular income, it may seem easier to put it into savings. You know that your monthly expenses are taken care of, so you may feel more comfortable putting that “extra” money away.
America Saves Week serves to educate Americans on the best ways to save that everyone can work into their lives. The benefits of saving cannot be understated. In addition to improving your overall financial health, saving allows you to reach goals and to be prepared for the unexpected.
Recognizing the importance of saving is the first step in becoming a more effective saver. Whether your savings goals are big or small, and whether you’re putting away thousands of dollars each month or simply collecting loose change, all saving is good saving.
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