This final installment from CHI FOR YOURSELF on money matters focuses on savings. Specifically on a “set it and forget it” approach to your money.
Putting a little money away for a rainy day isn’t always easy. You may have some good intentions, but at the end of the day, there’s little to go toward savings. Somehow whatever you make is spent before you make it to the next paycheck.
Start by making a personal budget. Take a look at what you bring in each month. Next, write down your fixed expenses. These are things like rent, car payments, and utilities. Figure out how much you need each month for groceries and other essentials. This is your bare bones budget. It’s good to know what you need to get by each month.
Next, it’s time for a little bit of math. Start with what you bring in each month and subtract all your core expenses.
What you’re left with is your discretionary income. This will pay for entertainment, clothes, getting your nails done and such. From this point on, part of that discretionary income will go into a savings account.
Pick a number you’re comfortable with. It could be a mere $20 per month. Or it could be $500. Put this in your budget and treat it like any other bill. It won’t take you long to get into the habit of setting aside that money for savings.
To make it even more hands-off, talk to your bank about setting up a separate savings account. Then set up an auto-deposit.
This will have the savings transferred to the new account as soon as your paycheck comes in each month. If you don’t see it, you’ll never miss it and your savings will run on autopilot.
Don’t forget to audit your savings from time to time. Take another look at your budget. Can you increase your savings a little more?
A great way to boost that savings account is to set aside any extra money – such as birthday cash, tax refunds, bonuses. Put them straight into the savings account. Again, you won’t miss the money, but you’ll see quick results as you build up your savings.
Make sure your savings are sitting in an interest-bearing account. Since you won’t be touching this money unless it’s a dire emergency, you should be able to earn at least a little interest. Talk to your banker about your best options and start putting your savings on autopilot.
One last tip: Ask your employer about matching 401-K funds. You may be able to get a contribution from the company. This is like “free money” toward your retirement savings account.