5 Steps to Save

neighbor of the beast
Image by BitHead via Flickr

“Saving is too hard.”

“I don’t know where to start.”

“How much should I save?”

“Who the heck are you to tell me what to do with my money?”

“Shut up, Jason.”

These are the things I hear when I start talking about getting a good strategy in place to save some money.   Financial matters are intimidating to a lot of people.  They’d rather not think about their money any more than they absolutely need to, if that much.   Here, I’m breaking it down to some simple steps to make saving easy.

1.  Get motivated. Why do you want to save some money?  Are you trying to make a secure future, or do you just want to buy a new toy?  These are the kind of questions you have to ask yourself.  Nobody else can tell you why you want to make changes to your lifestyle, and nobody else’s reasons matter in the least.   Saving money is something you have to do for you.

2.   Figure out how much you can save. Generally, you’re going to need a budget so you can figure out what you can afford to save, but not always.  If you are making ends meet, then you get a raise, you can obviously afford to bank the difference.  If you do that, you’ll never even notice the missing money.  If you try to save so much your mortgage goes unpaid, you’re plan is doomed to failure.

3.  Open an account at a new bank. The biggest problem I used to have when I was trying to save was that it was too easy to get the money.  Every time I checked the balance of my checking account, I saw the balance in the savings account.   Worse, it took seconds to transfer that money from my savings account to my attached checking account.    Every time I wanted to see if I could afford whatever toy I was looking at, I’d see money that wasn’t earmarked for anything in particular.  Naturally, that money got spent more often that it was ignored and allowed to grow.   Now, I can completely forget about the money.

4.  Automate. I’ve automated everything I can.  All of my bills are paid automatically, except for one company that insists on quarterly paper invoices.    I’ve got $665(neighbor of the beast!) automatically transferred to my INGDirect account, to get divided between my various savings goals, including a fund for my semi-annual property tax payments and a fund to pay for the braces we haven’t actually had to buy yet, but will in a couple of years.   The money disappears into a bank I don’t use for my day-to-day expenses and grows completely out of sight.    Every once in a while, I look at the account and get surprised by how much has accumulated.

5.  Get rich. Once you’ve got the other four steps in place, all you’ve got to do is let it work.  Over time, you will build wealth in a way that may surprise you.    Your goal at this point is to do nothing new.    Every once in a while, you can pull out some money and tuck it into an investment account to get some real growth going for you.

“Thank you.”

“You’re the best.”

“What would I do without you?”

“How can I show you my appreciation?

“What the heck are you doing with my wife?”

These are the things I always hope to hear after sharing my strategies to save money.

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    1. One thing that I found helped us get motivated was defining specific savings goals. For example, we wanted to do our big trip to Asia this year so we have been putting money away each month for it. We have also been saving for some projects around the house. I find when you define your savings, you are much more motivated to actually do it. Keeps it tangible.

      • Absolutely. We’re saving for our next vacation and for a nice DSLR camera for my wife and braces for my son and…a ton of other things, too. 🙂

    2. Great tips Jason. It’s super easy to save once it’s out of sight / out of mind.


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