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Savings Strategies

PayDayHawaii is proud to work with America Saves this week–we’ll be focusing on ways to save or not waste money with blog posts every day this week!

Thinking about saving, and your personal finance plan, sets you up for success for the entire year. While others are drifting away from their annual goals, you will have prepared yourself up to end the year in much better financial shape than you started. And really, it won’t be hard! No trips to the gym, and no dieting required!!

The non-profit organization America Saves offers even more great ways to get started saving.

If you haven’t started setting aside savings yet, it can be a little overwhelming to think about. But really, it’s very simple.

First, set a goal. Or go crazy, and set two or three goals! Do you want to have money for emergencies? Save for college expenses? For a new car? For moving expenses, or even a vacation? Or maybe you just want to get rid of your debt. Name your goal!

Second, make a plan. How are you going to achieve your goal? This is probably the hardest part, harder even than actually setting aside the savings. Just take it step by step, and you’ll be through it in no time. Start with looking at your expenses and making a monthly budget. Download our handy Budgeting Worksheet here. Once you know where your money is going each month, you can cut down on unneeded spending and save the difference.

Now put your plan into action. It’s easy to say “just save the difference,” but what are some easy ways to do that?

Determine an amount to set aside in savings each week. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a large amount at first. Can you save $50 a month? If $25 or $50 a month is too high, just start saving the loose change you’ve collected at the end of each day. It adds up quickly, and helps you get into the saving habit. Set it aside in cash, load it onto a debit card, or into a savings account.

Earn money on your savings. With a NetSpend prepaid debit card, you are eligible for a NetSpend Savings Account: No minimum deposit, and NetSpend offers a 5.00% interest (Annual Percentage Yield)—one of the highest interest rates in the country. Load your card with funds from your savings account, or use it to deposit funds. And it’s FDIC insured.

Use cash. For an easy way to control spending, consider switching over to a cash-only system. Decide ahead of time–each week for example–how much you want to spend, and set aside that much in cash. You can find more insight on the cash-only lifestyle is on the WiseBread website.

Use pre-paid debit cards. Sometimes you do need a credit card. What to do if you are trying to avoid adding to your credit card debt, or if you just get too tempted to spend with a credit card in your pocket? Use a pre-paid debit card for those situations in which you can only use a credit card. You can limit the amount of money available to use by only loading that much on the card.

Examine your optional expenses. Take a good look at what you spend money on each month. There are the necessary basics, like groceries, rent or mortgage, insurance, utilities, gas, and car repair. What else do you spend money on, and can you cut those expenses back a little? Limit dining out at restaurants, even fast food ones. Borrow movies and books from the library for free. Look for free museum nights and art shows, and discount programs at attractions and movie theaters. Trade babysitting services with friends.

Take a look at the regular services you pay for each month. Are you using all your cell phone minutes, or could you go to a more inexpensive plan? What about your car or home insurance? By going to a higher deductible, you will save on your premium each month. Think about your cable service, internet service, etc. Negotiate with your provider, and shop around for better deals.

Pack your lunch, and clean out your pantry. One of the keys to saving is developing thrifty long-term habits, such as bringing your own lunch to work instead of eating out. If you’re worried you don’t have time, cook something on Sunday and put it in individual portable containers. Start this week, and over the course of a couple of months, you can easily save $100. Plan meals around the ingredients you already have in your cupboards. You’ll slash your next grocery bill, and you’ll help ensure that food doesn’t go stale.

Put your tax refund in savings. Get the most from your tax refund by paying down your high-interest debt, or by putting it into your savings account.

Find even more saving strategies at America Saves, at Take the America Saves Pledge now to set your savings goal and make a plan to save.

America Saves is a campaign managed by the non-profit Consumer Federation of America. It seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth.

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