Squirrel away more money. Among the one-third of Americans making 2019 financial New Year’s resolutions, 48 percent plan to save more, according to a Fidelity Investments survey. If you’re among those aspiring savers, read on…
It’s hard to start saving money if you don’t know why you’re saving and what outcome you’re hoping to achieve. Identify the short-term, medium-term and long-term goals you’d like to meet to motivate and direct your savings strategies.
Develop a savings system.
“Create a system that works for you,” says Melissa Sotudeh, a certified financial planner and wealth advisor at Halpern Financial in Rockville, Maryland. That system could involve setting up separate savings or investment accounts dedicated to your goals. It could include using a mobile app or budgeting software to rein in spending. Start creating the processes that will help you reach your goal.
One of the best ways to create pain-free savings is to automate as many steps as possible. Set up automatic contributions to retirement and investment accounts, auto-direct deposits from your checking account into a high-yield savings account, and automate other processes to make your savings goals a reality.
Avoid “spending creep.”
It’s tempting to absorb a salary boost or year-end bonus into your spending instead of putting it toward your savings, Sotudeh says. Automatically earmark a portion — or even all — of a pay bump toward those savings goals.
Review spending patterns.
The new year is a great time to review your credit card or bank statements from the previous 12 months to determine where you can cut back and what money might be better redirected toward savings. Did you overspend on dining out this year? Make a plan to cut back and save the difference in 2019.
Cancel unneeded subscriptions and memberships.
As you review your previous year’s spending, note which regular expenses are ready for trimming. Perhaps you can cut your pricey cable bill, unused gym membership or an overpriced cellphone plan. This could be the year you unsubscribe from once-trendy delivery subscription services or fee-based credit cards. Tabulate the amount saved and automate an equivalent deposit to your savings account.
Divvy savings into appropriate accounts.
Not all savings should go into your bank’s savings account. For example, retirement savings may be better placed in a target-date investment account while college savings can grow in a 529 educational fund. Investigate which types of savings or investment vehicles best match your goals and make sure you earmark funds appropriately.
Don’t forget midterm goals.
Savers can focus too much on short-term emergency funds and long-term retirement plans without considering medium-term goals. That creates a barbell effect, where five- or 10-year goals, such as saving for a child’s college fund, a new house or kitchen upgrade, are ignored. Don’t forget to appropriately direct some savings toward those medium-term plans.
Slowly increase savings.
Boosting your savings by a few percentage points each year can be relatively painless while yielding major results, Sotudeh says. “You can increase your savings and investing amounts by little bits, and you won’t feel it because it’s small bits,” she says. “But because of compound growth, you will be appreciative of the effect.”
Readjust as needed.
Life events can change your savings goals. Perhaps the birth of a new child, a job layoff or an unexpected illness causes you to need to tap savings sooner or transfer them to a different investment account. Rethink your savings strategy as your lifestyle changes.
How to save more money in the new year
To recap, take these steps to ramp up your savings in 2019 and beyond:
— Identify your goals.
— Develop a savings system.
— Automate payments.
— Avoid “spending creep.”
— Review spending patterns.
— Cancel unneeded subscriptions and memberships.
— Divvy savings into appropriate accounts.
— Don’t forget midterm goals.
— Slowly increase savings.
— Readjust as needed.
Planning, automation and concrete goals will help you meet your savings resolutions in the new year.