Many Americans have been there before: “I want to start saving, but I don’t have enough money or any extra cash left over each month.” The key to making your savings goal a reality? Save money before you even get a chance to spend it! Manage your cash flow with a savings plan idea known as “pay yourself first.”
Determine If Saving Can Be Your Priority
It’s usually possible to set aside some money for saving somewhere in your personal finance budget, but there are times where it might not make sense to prioritize saving. For example, if you’re busy tackling debt from a high-interest credit card or student loan, it can save you more in the long run to prioritize credit card debt repayment over saving. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t start saving. Getting started now can help make saving a habit going forward.
Start Saving Money With an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is exactly what it sounds like: when you set aside a certain amount of money when possible for unexpected or “rainy day” expenses, such as mechanic or vet bills. An emergency fund works best when given its own savings account, separate from other bank accounts. Most financial experts recommend you have a minimum of 3 months of living expenses in your emergency fund. Living expenses include everything from utilities to food to mortgage or rent. While that may sound daunting, start with a goal of $1,000 and watch it grow over time.
To build up your emergency fund, either have part of your paycheck deposited directly into your savings account or set up automatic monthly transfers from your checking account to your savings account. Don’t worry if you need to start off small. Saving $10 per paycheck is better than saving nothing at all. You can slowly ramp up how much you stow away as you get used to saving.
Build a Retirement Savings Account
Does your employer offer a retirement account, such as a 401(k) account or Thrift Savings Plan? If so, it’s wise to take advantage of this account and contribute what you can afford to your retirement plan. If your employer offers to match your contributions, you can essentially earn free money every time you contribute up to the match amount. If don’t have an employer-provided retirement account, or you’ve maxed out your 401(k) contributions, you can open an individual retirement account, or IRA. This account also offers tax advantages not found in a standard savings account.
In addition to standard savings accounts and IRAs, you can give your savings an extra boost with money market savings accounts and certificates. You could earn more with a money market savings account since you typically deposit more money in them and larger deposits can equal better dividend rates. Certificates let you choose longer terms to earn higher rates, helping your savings grow with you.
- If you want to get started with saving, make it easier by depositing a part of your paycheck to a savings account so you don’t even have to think about it. You can do this by setting up direct deposit or automatic transfers.
- Ready to get saving? Navy Federal Credit Union can help you choose the right type of savings account based on your savings goal.
- If you haven’t already, make building an emergency fund a priority. Use our Emergency Savings Calculator to see how much you should have for unplanned expenses.
This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.