For many Americans, building up savings is a common goal, and for good reason. According to the Federal Reserve, 36% don’t have enough cash on hand to cover a $400 sudden expense and 51% have $5,000 or less in savings – far less than the recommended 3-6 months of expenses you should have saved in case of an emergency.
The good news is you can start growing your savings today by implementing a few easy best practices.
Add Savings to Your Budget Strategy
You can’t find new opportunities to save until you take a hard look at your budget and spending habits and make space for savings. On top of finding areas to cut back, budget for a portion of your income to put into savings each month. It’s okay to start small and increase your contributions over time — every little bit counts, and learning to save takes time. If you need help with budgeting, tools like USB Spending Insights can help track your spending and can find new ways to save through AI-powered analysis.
Cancel Subscriptions Services and Memberships
So many products and services today are based on automatic monthly or annual fees, such as streaming services, gym or fitness memberships, monthly gift boxes, or online services or apps. While that payment system can convenient, these services really add up each month. Take a little time to review all your subscriptions or memberships by looking at your bank or credit card statement and cancel any that no longer serve you or have become too expensive. You may even find ones you forgot to cancel. Whatever money you save by canceling can be put right into your savings.
Automate Your Savings
Adding money to your savings account on a regular basis is easy when you don’t have to think about it, and today’s automation technology can help. Tools offered by your bank may vary, but a common way to automate your savings is to set up regular transfers between your checking and savings accounts via online banking. How often and how much is totally up to you, but one best practice is to transfer money to your savings after your regular paycheck hits your checking account so you don’t accidentally spend it.
Go Beyond a Standard Savings Account
Having a savings account that links to your checking account is great, but standard savings accounts typically only offer low-interest rates. There are other types of accounts to consider that result in greater accruals each month. Popular options include a high-yield savings account or a certificate of deposit (CD). These accounts may come with some extra requirements or commitments but can be worth if you already have some savings to play around with.
The internet and social media are full of new budget trends or challenges to try, and maybe one will work well for you. Some popular ones include:
- No-Spend Days: Set aside days each month to not buy anything – no take-out, no Amazon orders, etc. Mark each of your no-spend days on a calendar to track your progress and keep you motivated.
- Pantry Challenge: Save money on food by committing to use up forgotten or special items in your pantry or fridge only. Get creative by Googling recipes with ingredients you already have.
- 52-Week Savings Challenge: There are many variations, but all involve committing to saving a small amount each week or increasing the dollar amount each week. For example, if you were to commit to saving $1 week 1, $2 week 2, etc., you’d end up with $1,378 by the end of the year.
While some of these tips may result in instant savings, remember that reaching your financial goals does take some time. The most important thing is to get started – whether you start small or big, it’s critical to start saving today. And then, you can track your progress so can be proud of your growing savings account.
If you’re unsure about the next steps, book a meeting with one of our FutureTrack coaches, who offer personalized savings advice based on your unique needs and goals.