Want to start saving money? Of course you do. Everyone does, but not everyone is sure how to start. Here are five steps that can get you started socking away cash every month.
1. Calculate Your Savings
Believe it or not, most households have no idea exactly how much money they earn. Most have an inkling, but few know exactly. To start saving money, it’s important to know exactly how much you bring home each week, month or year. So get out those paycheck stubs, grab a calculator and total up everything.
2. Track Your Expenses
If few households know exactly what they earn, even fewer can say what they spend. That’s a shame, because tracking expenses is the most important factor when it comes to saving money. Why? Because it is the factor over which you have the most control. Expense tracking requires an in-depth audit of everything that goes out, including checks, withdrawals, debits and cash. It’s hard work tracking everything, but if you are ever going to save money, you must make a habit it.
3. Do the Math
After completing steps 1 and 2 above, subtract your expenses from your earnings. For example, if your monthly earnings are $6,000 and your monthly expenses are $5,500, subtract your expenses from your earnings to determine your maximum possible savings ($6,000 – $5,500 = $500). Conversely, if your earnings are $5,500 and your expenses are $6,000, that means you’re spending $500 more than you earn each month, which is important because it tells you how much you need to cut back.
4. Decide on an Amount
Once your maximum possible savings amount is determined ($500 in the example above), decide how much of that can be saved, and then try to save the same amount each month until it becomes a habit.
5. Make Saving a Priority
If you can develop a saving habit and practice it long enough, it will ultimately become a priority, just like the mortgage, car payment, utilities and groceries. When that happens, you’ll really start saving.
Saving money isn’t easy, but the process is straightforward and simple: Calculate your earnings, track your expenses, do the math, decide on an amount and make saving a priority. Difficult? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.