Ready, Set, Save!

When you’re a student trying to finance your education and barely making ends meet, saving money may feel totally out of reach. But having even a little money set aside is really important, especially for emergencies. With a little creativity and determination, you can do it—you may even be surprised at how easy it can be.

Here are some tips to help you get into that smart savings mindset:

Start small

Remember that no amount is too little. Even putting away just $10 per week will yield $520 in a year. Start by putting your loose change in a jar and don’t spend it. Down the road, as your income increases and/or you find other ways to economize, you can increase your savings goals and take advantage of the power of compound interest. Try out this savings calculator to help you visualize the possibilities.

Make it automatic

One of the easiest and most effective ways to save is to make it automatic. Pay yourself first by setting up direct deposit of your paycheck, then having your bank automatically transfer a set amount to a savings, investment or other account.

Avoid impulse spending

Sometimes our spending habits are a sign of other stresses in our lives, so before making a purchase, take a few minutes to clear your head and think about whether you really need the item, or if you’re just trying to make yourself feel better. For large purchases, it’s a good idea to wait at least 24 hours before buying; it’s amazing how your perspective changes when you give yourself at little time to re-evaluate.

Stop accumulating debt

While you may be carrying student loans to help pay for your college expenses, make a pledge to minimize other debt, such as credit cards or car loans. And stay away from risky debt such as payday loans.

Review your spending habits

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” Find savings in your day-to-day expenses by reviewing your past spending habits and setting up a new budget. Be sure to include an amount for savings and treat it as an “expense” to encourage you to cut back on other things to balance your budget. Check out this article for more information on how to make a budget.

Don’t leave money on the table

If you have a job, be sure to take full advantage of your employer’s retirement savings benefits, such as a 401k. Many employers match your contributions up to a certain percentage, so failing to participate is like passing up free money. Even if your employer doesn’t provide a match, it is really important to start saving now for your retirement—so important that the government offers tax advantages to these programs.

Turn payments into savings

Here’s an extra tip for students paying for day care. Once your child is out of day care and attending public elementary school, take the money you were paying for day care and redirect it automatically into a college savings account. It’s money you weren’t used to seeing anyway, so before you get tempted to spend it elsewhere, put it toward your child’s future.

For more for more support, ideas and tips, visit AmericaSave$.org

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