Are you one of the 63% of Americans with no emergency savings? If so, you’re at risk of having to borrow to pay off any unexpected bills. Whether it’s a broken refrigerator, a car breakdown, or a sudden illness, unexpected bills happen. For your financial health, you need to have some savings set aside to cover these expenses.
The good news is that right now, today, you can stop living paycheck to paycheck and build your savings. And, whatever your finances, you can start today by changing a few of your daily habits. Start by making a budget for yourself. You can do this online or on your phone, but using a paper and pencil helps you really make sense of the numbers. Write down every source of income you have. Write down every bill you have, including any loans or credit card debt you’re paying off. How much difference do you see between your income and your bills? While you’re making your budget, be sure to set a little guilt-free money aside to spend on fun every month. That will help keep you from splurging.
Once you know how your income compares to your bills, track every dollar you spend for a week. Write down everything, from the coffee club at work to the change you put into the vending machine in the cafeteria. You may notice a pattern of spending. Do you usually grab a snack or coffee on your way to work? How about lunch? Plan ahead and make your own coffee, snacks, and lunches early in the morning or before you go to bed. Then you can put the money you would have spent on those items in a jar or a large envelope. Resist the impulse to dip into the jar.
Paying attention to your physical and emotional health will also help you achieve financial health. Going to bed earlier and getting enough sleep will help you stay focused on your goals. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and choose takeout or delivery food when you’re tired. Plus, feeling tired and stressed can lead you to want to spend more money on yourself.
Cut retail therapy out of your life. Do you shop on your phone when you’re feeling bored or lonely? Log out of your Amazon account and take any other shopping apps off your phone. Instead, when you’re feeling bored, write or draw in a journal, call a friend, or take a walk. You’ll feel better and so will your wallet.
Saving money doesn’t have to start big. Got spare change in your pockets or purse? Put it in your lunch money jar and leave it there. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it adds up. You only need $100 to open one of our savingsaccounts, so you could be there in a matter of months. Then you’ll be earning money instead of wondering where it all went. Once you have your spending in hand, you can increase the amount you save, and even plan for your future.
Even setting aside five dollars a week will help you get closer to your goals. But chances are, you can do better than that. By starting small, changing your spending habits, and believing in yourself, you can set yourself on the road to financial independence.
This article should not be considered legal, tax, or financial advice. You may wish to consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual financial situation.