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Financial Answer Center

Building a Savings Plan

Introduction

You have a certain amount of money available to you. You can spend it any way you choose.

  • What are the choices that are best for you?
  • How do you plan your spending so that it's in line with your goals and priorities?

First think about how to build your plan. For most people, a plan built around their pay period works best. It could be weekly, or every two weeks, or twice a month, or monthly.

Payments you are committed to are called fixed expenses. These are things like taxes, rent, mortgage payments, loan payments, or insurance. In reality, however, few expenses are set in stone.

Expenses you have significant control over or which change from month to month are called variable expenses. These are things like food, utilities, clothing, and gasoline.

Focus on variable expenses first when you are developing your spending plan.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you pay yourself first, by setting aside money for savings first, and spend what's left? That's the best approach to a spending plan.
  • How much of your money is spent on convenience foods and eating out?
  • Do you need all the clothes you buy?

The choices are up to you. It all depends on what you are trying to achieve. If eating out is your favorite thing in life, you should find a way to afford it. The point is to find out what it is you really want, and focus your resources there. Reduce or eliminate the things that don't mean as much.

Keep a record of your expenses for a month. How many of the things you bought were worth it? Aren't there items on that list you can't even remember buying? If you don't know, chances are those things weren't that important to you. Shouldn't they be the first things to go?

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