Financial experts are always advising people to save for various things like retirement and emergencies. But the amounts suggested may seem unrealistic for most people. When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, saving an entire year’s worth of living expenses or a million for retirement seems almost impossible. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t save anything at all. It’s important to have a financial cushion, and starting small will motivate you to save even more as time goes on. Here’s how to save money even if you don’t earn a big salary.
Open a High Yield Savings Account
Interest rates on typical savings accounts aren’t high, but a high yield account can give you a little more interest each month. Even though it may not seem like a big difference between a standard and high-yield savings account, the extra interest can add up over time. Visit Bankrate to search for banks offering the best rates.
Take Advantage of Employer Contributions
If your employer offers a 401k, open an account. Even if you don’t make a lot of money, it’s important to save for retirement and to start as early as you can. Many employers match contributions, so if you don’t participate you’re losing out on a huge benefit.
One of the easiest ways to save is to set up an auto deposit into your savings account each month. Start with whatever amount seems comfortable. If money’s really tight, just start with five or ten dollars. View saving as a necessity, like paying your rent or electricity. You’ll be forced to adjust your spending to accommodate the additional money coming out each month. Once you realize you don’t miss the money, you can bump up the amount.
Set Small Goals
Small, realistic goals will be reached more quickly and will inspire you to save more. If you set your goals too high, it’s easy to give up in frustration. Try starting with one savings goal for the amount you would need in a typical emergency (car repair, vet bill, etc.) and work towards that. After you’ve hit that amount, you can set other goals like retirement and a few months’ worth of living expenses.
Get a Side Job
You don’t need a traditional part-time job to earn extra income. Join a site like Fiverr or Freelancer and work when you want from home. If you’re crafty, try selling on Etsy or at local craft fairs. Other options include pet sitting, house cleaning, tutoring, and lawn care. Finally, you can sign up to take surveys for money on a variety of different sites and mobile apps. Even a hundred extra dollars a month can go a long way to help you start saving.
Look for Ways to Cut Expenses
Whether an expense is big or small, it’s costing you money that you could be saving. Look for one or two things to cut from your budget and allocate that money (whether it’s $10 or $100) to savings each month. Cable is a huge expense that many are cutting, especially with cheaper online entertainment options such as YouTube and Netflix. You can also take your lunch to work if you eat out every day. Even eating a cheap establishments is usually more expensive than something you prepare at home.
For more financial advice, read The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke