Everyone knows that you’re supposed to save money, but it’s rarely as simple as just depositing some money into a savings account. Over time, you will likely encounter setbacks and emergencies that chip away at any potential savings that you may have had or wanted to have. That’s okay, we’re here to help. Saving money is a journey that takes careful planning and lots of grace.

We celebrate America Saves Week every year here at Availa Bank, and while it’s officially celebrated in April, we’d like to give you a few pointers to get you on the right foot a little earlier. Keep reading for more information on how to save for all of life’s circumstances.

Start Saving Automatically

If you’re ready to start saving, but find it hard to stick to a plan, try saving automatically.

  • Set an amount from each paycheck to be direct deposited into a savings account. Look for a high interest savings account that will benefit you the most. This may take several conversations with a banker to decide what’s right for you.
  • If the thought of having your money all in one account is overwhelming, try setting up different savings accounts for different savings goals. This way it can be easier to track your progress on each goal.
  • In today’s digital world, there are also tons of apps out there to help you reach your savings goals. Some may help you save AND make money, while others can identify ways you can save based on your current spending patterns.

Saving for the Unexpected

If you’ve been meaning to start an emergency fund for your household, a good place to start is by having a monthly budget meeting with an accountability partner. This could be your spouse, parent, sibling, close friend, etc. This person is there to provide advice if you go off course in your spending and also support you in your goals. They can help point out any inconsistencies or things you may have missed while making your own budget/savings goals and you can do the same for them.

As you’re planning your savings, think about every expense you’ve had recently that’s surprised you. For example, you may have spent more money on food during the holidays and not realized how much it added up, or maybe you popped a tire on your car and had to get a new one. Maybe you got invited to more weddings and birthdays this year than past years, leaving you in a tight spot when purchasing gifts for each. Your emergency fund should be able to cover things like this.

As you look at expenses, if some are more than you can cover in one month, try a sinking fund. Break down your savings for a certain item/event by the months before it and put that money directly into an account. This should be an easily accessible account, like a checking account, to allow you to take out the money when you need it.

You may also be tempted to use your emergency fund for certain things that come up that aren’t necessarily an emergency. Before you dip into your funds, think: Is this an unexpected, necessary, and urgent expense? If you answer no to this question, you may want to rethink purchasing that item with the funds you have saved. Having a goal sheet can help you keep your eyes on the bigger picture.

Saving for Major Milestones

Are you thinking of going back to school? Want to save some money for your kids’ college funds? Is your career taking off and you’re looking at taking a new job several states over? Maybe you’re planning to get married soon or are looking ahead to retirement. Whatever your major milestones are, you’ll want to have some savings to back them up.

The best way to start is by creating a timeline with all your major milestones listed. You can do any range of time, from 5 – 10 years, all the way up to 50! You could even do something as small as 6 months. It’s about creating a plan that’s right for you. Determine your priorities and then develop a budget and timeline for each goal.

After you’ve done this step, consider talking to a banker about the best accounts for your goals. This way, they can help you set up a plan that works well for you, and you won’t have to worry about where your money is going every month. It’ll all be set up for you.

Paying Down Debt is Saving

The less money you owe, the more freedom you’ll have to use your money how you want to, including your savings. While certain types of debt can boost your credit score, it’s not a good idea to be in so much debt that you don’t think you’ll ever be able to get out of it.

Before you make another large purchase that requires you to take on debt, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it urgent?
  • Can I delay this purchase until I have more money?
  • Can I choose something less expensive that I can afford now, without going into debt?
  • How will this affect my long term savings goals?

Saving at Any Age

Saving money is a lifelong commitment, but it’s not always something we learn at a young age. It’s never too early or too late to learn how to save money in a way that can benefit you. You have different knowledge and life experiences in each stage of life that can either help you with your savings goals or make it harder. But that doesn’t mean you should give up entirely. There are so many tips, tools, and even other people you can use to help you reach your savings goals.

It’s important to remember, your financial milestones are different than others. Just because your good friend bought their first house at age 25 does not mean you’re behind if you haven’t purchased yours yet. Just because someone you know may have been able to retire at 55, does not mean that you have to stress yourself out trying to reach the same goal when you turn 55. Do what you can with what you have and be committed to reaching your goals.

Saving For All

There is no perfect formula to saving. It doesn’t happen overnight and it won’t look the same for everyone. That’s why we’re here! We have a range of products to help you with all your financial goals, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see progress right away. Take a deep breath, know that there will be unexpected expenses, and do your best. The more planning you do, the easier it will be to get started on your savings journey. If you’d like to know more about saving, you can check out the America Saves website or talk to an Availa banker today!