- Saving Money, Financial Advice, Savings, Millennials
- November 01, 2019
- FCU Team
Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying that “A penny saved is a penny earned,” and smart savers know this to be true. However, holding on to those pennies isn’t always easy. Opening a savings account is a great start, but how can you ensure it grows steadily?
Try some (or all) of these proven strategies for decreasing your expenditures and increasing your savings:
- Find investments with a greater ROI. The small amount of interest typically paid by a savings account is helpful, but there may be ways for you to earn more. From certificates of deposit or “CDs” to stocks and bonds, wise investments can help you grow your savings faster. Just be sure you keep in mind both the risk of the investment and how accessible the funds will be should you need them unexpectedly.
- Keep paying on paid-off obligations. You’ve paid off a student loan, made your last car payment, or met some other financial obligation. That’s great news! But what if you kept making the payment and directed it to your savings account instead? Keep that forward momentum going by “writing a check” to yourself each month in the form of a transfer of money from checking to savings.
- Put a chosen percentage of every windfall into savings. Money from bonuses, tax refunds, and other “windfalls” can help you grow your savings. And if you decide in advance that a certain percentage of these kinds of income will always go directly into a savings account, it’s easier to follow through when you might be tempted to use them for a purchase you really don’t need to make.
- Turn saving money into a game. That burst of endorphins we get from “winning” can be a powerful motivator for setting money aside. Create weekly or monthly savings goals that increase a little bit from one to the next and give yourself a well-earned pat on the back (and maybe a small reward, too) when you achieve them. You may even want to tell your family or close friends about what you’re doing, as sharing your successes can amplify their impact on your commitment.
- Reduce recurring optional expenses. It’s easy to dismiss small monthly expenditures as having a negligible impact on your budget. But that music or TV streaming service you’ve set to auto pay, and rarely use, can be discontinued and the money can be converted to a stream of funds into your bank account. Before you know it, those dollars and cents can add up to significant sums.
- Break the ATM habit. Getting cash from an ATM is convenient, but having cash in your pocket makes it much easier to spend! Rather than withdrawing money on the spur of the moment, make one withdrawal per week of a budgeted amount, going under the amount whenever possible.
- Have your paycheck automatically divided. If your employer offers direct deposit, set it up such that the amount you need for normal expenditures goes into your checking account and the rest goes straight into your savings account. Sometimes “out of sight, out of mind” can help minimize the temptation to spend money on products and services that you don’t need.
- Develop your DIY skills. Learning to make small repairs and craft the things you need rather than buying them provides two benefits. First, it can help you save money. Second, it gives you a sense of pride to know that while that homemade bookshelf may not win any design awards, it’s the fruit of your hard work.
- Search for deals to make reward dollars go further. When you decide to treat yourself, it’s easy to say, “I’ve earned this,” and consequently be a little freer with your money than you ought to be. Yes, you should give yourself a little reward now and then, but there’s no reason you can’t do so at the best available price. A few minutes of looking for coupons (online or in your mail) can save you a few bucks, and every dollar counts. There are plenty of resources online that can help you find deals and coupons to save you money.
- Find ways to lower your utility bills. It’s common for people to see utilities as a “necessary evil,” and simply write a check each month. But there are ways to lower your water, electricity, gas, and other recurring bills. Using less air conditioning, hot water, and unplugging your electronic devices when you aren’t using them will save you lots of money in the long run. It requires a little work up front, but after a while, the habits you develop turn into money in your pocket.
- BONUS: Join forces with like-minded friends. You probably aren’t the only one in your circle looking to grow your savings. Find out who else is trying to pinch pennies and support one another. For example, if enough people in your group want to go to the more affordable restaurant, the shift away from the pricier option saves everyone money. It's easier to stick to a commitment when you have others that can hold you accountable.
As you are working on growing your savings, it’s important to have reasonable expectations. We can’t say for sure why Franklin mentioned pennies rather than, say, quarters or dollar bills, but it may be that he was emphasizing the need to start small. While you might be eager to pay off a debt, start a home improvement project, or book that dream vacation, it’s going to take some time to accumulate the hundreds or thousands of dollars required. Keeping this in mind can help prevent frustration about the pace of your progress. While it takes a little work, you can build your savings just by following these simple tips.
Florida Credit Union is a full-service financial institution. Founded in 1954 as the Alachua County Teachers’ Credit Union, FCU now services over 100,000 members in 45 counties throughout North and Central Florida. For more information on the services we provide, visit FLCU.org or call us at 1-800-284-1144.