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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Saving

Saving money is one of the most important things that you can do to protect yourself in the event of an emergency or loss of employment. Unfortunately due to growing costs of monthly bills, saving often gets put on the back burner. If you find yourself having difficulty putting away money for when you need it most, or to save for your future goals, try the tips listed below.

Set Up Your Savings Account

You may be less inclined to save without having an established savings account. Many banks will now allow a low balance to maintain a savings account so get one started even if you don't have much to put in.  Take a look at online savings accounts for higher rates.  

Schedule Automatic Deposits to Your Account

Putting money away before you have access to it is the easiest way to facilitate savings. Set a specific amount of your paycheck to deposit directly into your savings account even if you can only part with a small portion each week, or set up an auto debit from your checking account each month.  

Create a Spending Plan

Savings is very difficult if you don't know where your money goes.  Write it down, use an app, use a spreadsheet, review your year end credit card statements - gather your data and develop a plan.  This is a critical step in our financial planning process.  

Emergency Funds 

There is a difference between annoyances and emergencies and you need funds for both.  Annoyances include home and car repairs.  While they aren't part of your fixed expenses each month, you should know that something will go wrong at some point.  Stash some cash in an easily accessible account to cope with life's challenges.  Also, save to another less accessible, but still liquid fund that provides you with access to funds in a true emergency - a medical crisis, a job loss, or a really large home repair.  

Find Ways to Cut Costs

There are numerous ways to cut costs in your home and during the course of your daily life.  Watch the coffee and dining out costs - they add up quickly.  Turn up the A/C or turn down the heat a degree or two.  Combine errands to save gas. 

Ditch Unnecessary Memberships

Think a gym membership will pay for itself? Sometimes, if you use it. However, if you don't,  memberships like this can add up to a significant amount of money throughout the year. While there are many free ways to get the exercise you need, for the amount you spend annually on memberships you could afford to purchase a piece of exercise equipment to get you through the winter months when outdoor activities may be prohibitive.  Also, check on the other items you pay monthly - companies count on you to forget you are paying and keep doing so. 

Utilities

Review your cable, internet, cell phone, and utility bills for cost savings.  Give the providers a call - sometimes there's a new package that might work better for you and your budget.  

Do It Yourself When You Can

Many of the minor home and vehicle repairs you may encounter can be easy to do yourself. Research fixes that are easy and safe for you to do and take care of these minor issues on your own which can save hundreds of dollars in maintenance calls and repair charges.  Be safe though!  

Budget Shop

Don't be afraid to look for a bargain. When shopping for items like clothes you will find that you can get up to five times the amount of pieces for the same price as one outfit by shopping at garage sales and thrift stores. The added benefit is that if your clothes become damaged, you will not be upset about the loss of money.

Take Advantage of Reward Plans

There are reward plans available for almost any type of shopping. Gas stations, grocery stores, online shopping and clothing shops almost always offer some free reward program just for signing up. While these savings can seem minimal at first, they can add up over time.  However, be sure you are comfortable with the trade offs - generally in terms of your privacy for some of the loyalty programs.  Credit card rewards do add up - choose a card wisely.  

Put Away Your Loose Change

Often loose change is forgotten or discarded due to its low value. But if you sit down and think about how many times you get a few cents here and there, you may realize those pennies can add up to a lot over time. Designate a place for your change and once it is filled bring it straight to your savings account.

Plan Your Meals

Planning your meals can help you save money in a number of ways. First, you will be able to reduce the number of trips you make to the grocery store and secondly you will be able to buy more items in bulk which will account for a lower per piece price. Another added benefit of meals is you are less likely to spend money on take-out when you can't think of what to have for dinner. 

Grab hold of your savings destiny by trying some of the tips above to help grow your savings to prepare you for an emergency, a loss of wages, or just provide you with savings to start planning for your future.