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Jun 18, 2018

How to Build Stronger Savings Habits

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If your goal is saving more money, take these next steps.
Did you set a New Year’s resolution to save more money this year? We’re almost half way through the year. If that cultivates more anxiety from your lack of saving so far this year (we hope not) than satisfaction as you see your bank account grow, it may be time to take a closer look at your goal.

Here are some of our best tips to begin stronger savings habits, no matter where you’re starting:

Assess the cost of recurring expenses. Whether you like to get a morning coffee as part of your morning routine or you go out for lunch or dinner multiple times a week, these costs can add up fast. Try tracking these expenses for a month to see the potential savings you’re missing out on or discover the savings you could see over a longer time period with our Lunch Savings Calculator.

Don’t worry. We’re not telling you to give up your daily caffeine fix (especially if it makes you a better morning person).

Once you see what you could save, you can still find major cost advantages in exploring cheaper alternatives to your favorite brew.

Don’t forget about “fixed” expenses that you can shop around for as well. With a little searching you may be able to find comparable insurance coverage, garbage service, and cable or streaming services for less than what you are currently spending. Every little bit adds up – especially for monthly expenses.

As you assess recurring expenses, go ahead and track everything. Simply stated, you’ll be less likely to diverge from your budget and savings goals if you have them and know what your money is going toward. There are lots of budgeting software options and apps available, so check them out and see what works for you.

Quick Tip: If you have a Firefly account and use digital banking, you can use our money management tool to set goals, build budgets, and categorize spending to help manage your financial life in one place.

Automate your savings. Did you know that you can split your Direct Deposit to go into multiple accounts? If you never have the portion of your paycheck that you put toward saving in your checking account, you’ll be less tempted to spend it (you might be surprise to find out you don’t even miss it)!

Become the reigning champion of finding discounts. Nowadays, there are so many great ways to find discounts right at the tip of your fingers: apps for the retailers you frequently shop at, coupon websites, and even web browser attachments that will search online retailers’ price history for an item you are looking to buy. Don’t forget about coupons that come in the paper or mail. Even if you don’t have a coupon, many retailers offer discounts with a valid student or military ID. The less you are spending, the more you have to save!

Quick tip: See if your favorite store has an app or a free rewards program. For example, Cartwheel provides Target shoppers with small discounts off items – savings a few cents or even dollars each trip. Over years, this can add up to be hundreds!

While you’re at it, take advantage of discounts or rewards through your debit or credit card. Many cards offer reward programs that provide cashback discounts at retailers or allow you to earn points from purchases (including Firefly). Explore the options available with the cards in your wallet and take any steps you need to take to qualify for these discounts to start making the most out of your purchases.
 
Avoid the extra cost of premium brands.  Drooling over the latest iPhone release? Or, maybe you’ve got your heart set on picking up a Google Pixel 3 once it is released. Consider how it will set back your savings for larger goals like retirement. While you may want to have the latest and greatest, it could be costing you in the long run. Think of the compound savings that you could be missing out on for the newest tech fad that will be outdated in less than a year anyway.

Quick tip: Understand the difference between a brand that is considered premium for name alone and one that’s premium because it makes quality goods that are built to last.

Create a vision board for your savings goals. Contrary to our last point, maybe having the latest-and-greatest technology is something you value greatly. Maybe you want to save for a reliable car, a wedding, or a home – though we hope that you have a savings plan for emergencies and are working on your retirement savings as your highest priority. Having specific goals in mind is a necessary step to know what you need to save. It helps you to create a roadmap to know how much to save each year (or month or week) to have the funds to make purchases (or create the experiences you desire) when you need them.

Quick tip: If simply keeping a list of savings goals isn’t cutting it, create a Pinterest board or print out a photo and put it somewhere that will remind you what you are saving for.

Get down to the nitty-gritty details of your financial accounts. What do you need to do to avoid a monthly fee on your account? What happens if you make a purchase for more than what is in your account? Can you receive free balance alerts if your account drops below a certain amount? Are there any fees that your financial institution will charge for any common money habits you have (for example, using an out-of-network ATM)? Become an expert on these questions before you’re caught off guard. You may even find through your searching that some of your accounts aren’t meeting your needs as well as they could be.

Quick tip: Look beyond the marketing messages and look at disclosures and fee schedules at your financial institutions to better understand where you are at risk for paying more than you need to.

Now that you’ve learned these saving strategies, put them to use! You’ll be surprised how much you can save yet this year if you put your mind to it!

Want to get started on building your savings?

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