How to Save More Efficiently

Published May 20, 2024

If you’re like most people, saving more money is probably one of your top priorities. However, like most people, you probably haven’t been successful in accomplishing this goal in the past. Saving money isn’t necessarily hard, but it does take effort, planning, and dedication. It may seem like a lot, but luckily it can be broken down into 5 simple steps.

Step 1: Create a Budget

“Create a budget” is the most common finance advice but it’s for a good reason. Budgeting helps you understand the flow of your money and recognize where you need to cut back or where you may have a little extra to spend or put away for a rainy day. A budget should include your income, expenses, and any savings goals you have. Defining your income and expenses will make it easier to understand how much you can afford to save each month.

Step 2: Define Your Savings Categories

Whether you’re saving for emergencies or a trip out of town, be sure to specify what each savings account is for. This will help you stay committed to your savings goals and use funds appropriately for their intended purposes. Delegating savings categories as “Travel” and “Emergencies,” for example, makes it less likely that you will mix up the funds or spend more than you have saved. Some savings categories you can create include “Emergency Fund,” “Travel/Vacation,” “House or Car Down Payment,” “School,” “New Computer,” etc. You can create as little or as many savings categories as you like, and they each should reflect your personal finance goals.

Step 3: Set up Automatic Transfers

Using automatic transfers or direct deposit to fund your savings accounts is one of the most effective ways to save money. Having to transfer money manually adds another step to the task, which increases the chances that you will forget and risk spending your savings elsewhere. For consistency, change your direct deposit settings to send a portion of your paycheck to a savings account each time you get paid. This allows you to “pay yourself first” and get savings out of the way early so you can manage the rest of your paycheck as necessary.

Step 4: Out of Sight Out of Mind

When it comes to savings, the best way to remain persistent is to set up your savings, and then leave it alone. This means that you don’t touch it for any reason other than for your savings goals. Only use travel funds when buying items for a trip and only use emergency funds when you have a flat tire or an unexpected bill. Bonus if you have accounts that are not linked to each other, so you can resist the urge to transfer money back and forth. You can check in on the accounts monthly to make sure funds are being deposited as intended but, for the most part, you should be completely hands-off.

Step 5: Make Your Rules and Follow Them

Although it’d be ideal to be able to save routinely without any interruptions or setbacks, life happens. You may have an emergency that requires you to dip into your Down Payment Fund, or maybe you spent too much on vacation and had to transfer money from your New Computer account. Whatever the case, having a plan and rules in place will help you address and adjust to situations as they arise. For example, if you determine your Emergency fund is off-limits, you will have to make plans for when other areas of your budget are impacted. The point is to determine how flexible or stringent you are willing to be with your savings and be prepared for curveballs. You shouldn’t create loopholes for any little thing, but do be prepared for the unexpected so you can stay on track as much as possible.

When done right, saving money can set you up for success in sustaining life’s varying circumstances and being able to treat yourself now and then. If you take a structured approach to saving, you will be able to reach your goals sooner than you know.

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