Another paycheck has come and gone and your savings account is shrinking or at best staying the same. It is getting frustrating and stressful living paycheck to paycheck with no real financial cushion. Having a decent sum in your savings account can help you get by in between jobs or assist you in emergencies or unexpected situations. Here are a few do's and don'ts to building up your savings account and still having a life.
Pay yourself first. It's one of the best and easiest things you can do for your savings account. Start off by getting all you regular monthly bills together. Sit down and write out your budget if you haven't already done so. You'll be able to see how much you have left over each month or even every paycheck. Start off with depositing half of those funds into your savings account. By starting out with half you are still leaving enough money in your checking to cover unexpected expenses or fluctuation in bills without dipping into your savings account. You worked for it, it's your money, so make sure you get paid for it.
Deposit your loose change. Whenever you pay cash for stuff, instead of searching your purse or pockets for change to pay the exact amount, just pay in bills. Get a coffee tin, water jug or baggie and put all your change in it. Then when it has built up a bit take it to the bank and deposit into your savings account. Many banks, such as Wells Fargo, have coin machines in their lobbies that don't charge any fees if you have account at that bank. This makes it quick and easy anytime you need to run to the bank, and you don;t have to wait while the teller counts all your loose change. Make a game out of it! You can keep track of the deposit slips and try to top each time you go to the bank.
One of the best ways to save money can come directly from programs offered by your banking institution. Bank of America, US Bank, and others offer programs that will deposit money into you savings account just by using your debit card. One of the programs will take the amount of your debit transaction and round it up to the nearest fuller dollar amount and then transfer the extra amount into your savings account. This is very easy and takes very little effort. And it can make balancing your checkbook easier because all your transactions will be even amounts. Another program banks off is you can designate a dollar amount you want transferred into your savings account each time you use your card. For example, if you elect $1, when you swipe your card for $5.62 at a store then $6.62v will be withdrawn from your checking account and that extra dollar will be put into your savings account. This is great for people who primarily use their debit cards for their purchasing transactions. Check with your bank to see what programs they offer and what will work best for you.
If it is just too tempting to withdraw money from your savings accounts for stuff consider opening a savings account at a different bank from your checking account. Try setting it up at a bank across town so you have to go out of your way to access those funds. The inconvenience will deter you from withdrawing money from your savings for things you don't really need. But depositing money into that account can still be easy. You can set up transfers from your primary bank account or even set up multiple direct deposits through your employer or even set it up through your online bill pay. Make sure to still get an ATM card to this account in case of emergencies and the bank is closed, but put in a non-visible place in your wallet. Out of sight, out of mind.
Saving money can be hard. So eliminate some of those obstacles that make it difficult. Don't use your savings account as a goal for purchases. If you are trying to save up for that new sofa, television or vacation (or whatever) use a different account for those funds or something that is not your savings account. Withrawing large amounts from your account affects the interest you can earn on your account and can lead to easy justifications for withdrawing those funds for other splurges. Also keep in mind that most banks comply with federal laws that restrict how many times you can withdraw money from a savings account. After six withdraws in a statement period you can start to incur fees or even have the account closed down. These fees get deducted from your savings account the withdraw transactions took place from which will contribute to the depletion of your funds.
Also, don't link your debit card to your savings account. It's just another way that makes it too easy to withdraw the funds or transfer them to your checking for purchases and splurges you don't actually need. If an emergency arises and you need to access those funds you can always call your bank for the transfer. Most banks have 24 hour customer service representatives or automated phone service that can do this for you if you can't make it into a branch or the bank is closed. Again, eliminating temptations will help keep your savings intact and prevent you from incurring fees.
So no matter much your bills are or how much you make there is a way even you can save money. Find the way(s) that works best for you and your situation then commit. Just be sure to keep your saving goals realistic; as with dieting, saving and spending in moderation is key. Saving money doesn't mean you can't go out and have fun but you can have fun saving and rest easy knowing that your financially taken care of if something happens.