Easy Ways to Build Up Your Savings
Some people seem to be born into this world with a natural ability to save and invest, being well-prepared for everything life has to throw their way. For those of us who aren't quite as savvy in these areas, what can we do to build up our savings with ease?
Trust me, I get it.
We all love the idea of saving for retirement, that family vacation we've been wanting for a while, a new vehicle, a new TV, or even just building up a good buffer for any of life's unexpected financial surprises. Medical bills, pet bills, that oil change you totally forgot was coming up soon, HOA fees, car tag renewals... and they all usually seem to come along at the worst possible times.
If money is tight or you're just plain not-that-great at managing it or remembering to budget for setting aside some of your income for savings, you're not alone. However, I have a few foolproof tips and recommendations that will hopefully make your life and attempts at saving a bit easier!
Any Loose Change Goes Straight into a Piggy Bank
If you like the idea of building up your savings as well as having a legitimate excuse to fill your home with really cute piggy banks, you'll love this first tactic.
I'm not really a fan of carrying cash around, but my partner and oldest kid certainly are. They're usually quite good at remembering to keep their cash in their wallets, but change seems to always find its way around the house and in the car, ending up in some very unusual places.
Whenever these coins end up in a location that is very clearly not their designated homes, they get added to one of the numerous piggy banks I like to keep on display in our home. Actual pigs, Paw Patrol decor, dinosaurs, Pokemon, cow/turtle hybrids—we have quite the great selection to choose from when it's time to fill those bad boys up.
I usually don't pay too much attention to these until I notice they're completely full, so they may go untouched for a few months or maybe even a year. Once they're so full that they're hard to lift or put any more coins in, we get out our coin wrappers and sort them by hand to take to the bank to deposit.
"Why not use something like Coinstar?" a few of you may ask. Well, they take a percentage of the change you've been saving when you go to have it counted. It's a great option for people in a rush or for those who simply don't care, but I'd rather spend some of my time counting every last cent and making sure I'm getting the most from my efforts.
Save Your Fives
I saw this tip online somewhere years ago, and it's been oddly effective! We all see $1 bills and $20 bills most frequently, but making the conscious choice to "save your 5s" is a great way to boost your savings without completely emptying your wallet. Any time you acquire a $5 bill, you simply store it away—whether that's in one of those amazing piggy banks you should totally own, a safe, or just in your jar full of change.
Choosing to do this with $1 bills may be a great option for some people, but it'll also cause the bills to take up a lot of space yet have a lower value per the volume of whatever container you've stored them in. Using $10 bills is also great if you can manage to do so, but this may have a stronger impact on your current finances. $5 bills seem to be the "sweet spot" for making your savings build up most quickly without having a significant detrimental effect on your present budget and spending abilities.
Use the Digit App
I was so scared to link my bank account to this app, thinking it was a scam or too good to be true, but I've been using it for over a year now, and it's absolutely fantastic!
Digit allows you to set up savings goals (literally anything you want to save for) and work toward them over a period of time. It learns your income and spending habits and will deduct a few dollars or cents each business day to help you slowly build up to your goals without wrecking your finances. It was even able to help me save for our move across the state this past year, and I just hit my financial goal last week to afford a now-scheduled eye doctor appointment as well as a new pair of glasses!
When you use this app, you can set savings goals without restrictions, such as my "Emergency" fund that has no set total amount nor completion date, so it simply saves on a regular basis and I can withdraw the funds whenever I need them. For other goals, you can leave a completion date off of the goal but add a total amount. This will help you keep track of what you need to have, but will still contribute towards the goal at your average transfer rate.
Additionally, you can set goals with dates and totals both included—however, I've noticed that it will MAKE you reach the goal on time, but this can sometimes hit your bank account hard depending on your income and how close that completion date is to arriving. For those with consistent income, I'd imagine you would probably be fine. For those of us with fluctuating income, sometimes it's best to just leave that date off and transfer larger amounts whenever finances allow.
The app is completely flexible and allows you to dictate everything about your savings habits. It also includes their mandatory "Rainy Day" savings in case your account accidentally gets overdrawn for any reason—they'll immediately send the funds over to cover it from the amount you have saved. You can also transfer over bulk amounts to any of your goals as you please (such as having the opportunity to transfer over $20 one week that you may not have been able to do another week).
Here's a screenshot of what you can expect. When you sign in, the app gives you a little snippet of the progress it's made, as pictured in the blue section of the image.
You can also see my ongoing "Emergency fund" goal, my "New Glasses" goal that I just recently completed, and you can also see an ongoing surgery goal that I know I have to save up for every few years and which Digit allows me to gradually save towards affording instead of just having miscellaneous savings accounts that I later have to drain. It lets me keep this big, recurring expense separate from everything else I need to work towards on a monthly or yearly basis!
Also, once you're ready to withdraw your funds (whether your goal has been met or you simply need the money ASAP), the process is easy and has only taken me about a day or two after making the transfer to have the money readily available. (Note: My Digit account is connected to one of my slowest bank accounts when it comes to transfers—including being molasses even with Paypal—so you may find the funds available more quickly than I have depending upon which bank handles your accounts.)
For anyone wanting to check out the app and see if it works as well for you as it has for me, here is my referral link for you to get started, and be sure to let me know what you think!
Set Aside a Specific Amount or Percentage ANY Time You Receive Money
This one is a bit similar to the "Save Your 5s" rule but applies more to tax season, holidays, and birthdays.
Whenever you get a bulk amount of money, choose a specific amount or a percentage of that money to put back towards your savings.
If you have a relative that you know is going to give you that yearly $100 bill each Christmas, maybe you'll choose this coming year to put back $25 for one of your specific goals, put back $25 for general savings, and just keep $50 currently out for treating yourself to a delicious dinner somewhere or buying something you didn't manage to get as a gift.
With tax season rolling around soon, this is always a great opportunity for boosting your savings. Consider taking 10% of your tax return and holding it back for whatever frivolous and fun or potentially necessary expenses you may have later on. If your debt isn't too bad and needing to be immediately paid off, try even setting aside 25% of your tax return or more!
Whether you choose a specific amount or an overall percentage is strictly up to you and your preferences and needs, but the main goal with this habit is to be consistent so you can consistently add to your savings when receiving income of any sort.
More Ways to Save
As more content is added to this collection of resources, more links will be added below on additional ideas for saving money, reducing expenses, and more.
Check back in later for further information! :)