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Financial Answer Center

Building a Savings Plan

Painless Ways to Boost Savings

Here are some ways to boost savings with as little as $25 or $50 a week or month:

  1. Treat your savings like a monthly bill. Put aside money before you spend it. Once a month, when you pay your bills, write out a check to deposit in your savings account. Begin by saving 1% of your take-home pay the first month and increase the amount by 1% each month, more if you can.
  2. Make regular payments. After paying off a car loan, college bills or other debt, continue to write a check for the same dollar amount, or at least half the amount, and stash it in your savings. You've been living without that money each month anyway, so you won't miss it.
  3. Save all non-recurring income. Bonuses, freelance or moonlighting income, overtime checks and tax refunds should be earmarked for savings.
  4. Save your spouse's salary. If you're married and both you and your spouse have incomes, try to live on one salary. Although your monthly expenses may not be halved, setting up this savings priority helps you automatically reduce your living expenses.
  5. Adjust your lifestyle. Cut back on expenses. You can boost your savings by reducing what you spend on discretionary items, the things you don't really need, such as expensive vacations, entertainment and luxury items.
  6. Boost your rent. If you're renting now, increase your monthly rent in theory and put that extra amount in your savings fund where it will earn interest. For example, if your rent is $500 a month, budget $650 and save the extra $150 toward your savings.
  7. Save gifts. If you're getting married, add any cash wedding gifts to your savings account. Do the same for any other gifts of cash you may get for birthdays, holidays, or bonuses.

Try some smaller steps:

  • Turn the heat and air conditioning down. Wear a sweater in the winter and use ceiling fans in the summer.
  • Save eating out for special occasions—you may even enjoy it more in the long run.
  • Brown bag your lunch a couple days a week. $5 two times a week for one year adds up to $520.
  • Maintain your car yourself (if possible) and drive it for at least 100,000 miles.
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