How to Stop Procrastinating and Start Saving

Times are hard right now. Medical costs are sky-rocketing, jobs are uncertain, and the foreclosure rate is at an all-time high. Now, more than ever, you need a savings account as a safety-net to catch you during financial emergencies. With Social Security and Medicare on the rocks, you should be saving for retirement, too. You know saving is the right thing to do, so why is it so hard to get started?

Prioritize

If you’re like most people, you have the best intentions when it comes to savings. As soon as that extra money shows up, you know you’ll put it straight into the bank. The problem is, extra money never seems to show up, does it? There are always plenty of ways to spend every dollar. If you really want to start saving, you need to look at it differently. You need to prioritize that expense. Saving is vitally important to your future, so think of it as being just as important as every other bill. On pay-day, put your savings on the top of the “to pay” list.

Start small

If you’re new to saving, start small. Good habits are hard to establish; bad habits are hard to break. Mark Twain once said, “A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.” It’s tempting to try to to start your new savings program with a large chunk of money. After all, it will add up so quickly that way. Before you know it, you’ll have that fat savings account you’ve always wanted. The truth is, if you try to save too much, too soon, you’re very likely going to fail. If you have to make too many sacrifices, you will become frustrated and fall back on your old ways.

Start with an amount that you know you can commit to and that you won’t sorely miss from your monthly budget. Is that five dollars? Ten? Twenty? You decide what you can live with. It may not seem like much, but you have to remember you’re accomplishing two goals at the same time. First, you’re actually starting to put money aside. Second, and perhaps even more importantly, you’re starting a new, good habit. You should be proud of both these accomplishments. You’ll also be surprised at how quickly small, regular deposits add up. Remember, too, once your new habit is established and you’re comfortable with it, you can always increase the amount you’re putting into savings.

Make it easy

Look for a way to make transferring money to your savings account as simple as possible. The less you have to think about it, the easier it will be to stick to your new saving plan. Some banks let customers set up regular transfers from one account to another. You could set up a monthly transfer from your checking account, for example, to your savings. That way, the money is put into savings, whether you remember it or not.

If you really have trouble not spending that money that’s on its way to your new savings account, remember the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind.” See if the company you work for has a credit union or other kind of savings program. Usually, with these kinds of programs, money can be taken from your earnings and sent straight to your savings account. You never even see the money until it shows up in your savings. What better way to keep yourself from spending it?

Treat yourself

As proud as you are of your new fiscal responsibility, don’t forget to reward yourself for your diligence. Saving for unexpected bills and emergencies, and retirement as well, is very important, but set aside a small percentage of your new savings account for something that is just plain fun. This will not only be a reward, but will give you a fun savings-goal as well.

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