These ten best ways to save money — and build an emergency fund — are from financial expert Ethan Ewing, president of Bills.com. “Many Americans feel helpless about the economy at the moment,” he says — and these money saving tips will help increase your feelings of control.
Before the tips, a quip from Mad Magazine: “The only reason a great many American families don’t own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments.”
Your goal may not be to own an elephant…but we all wish we had enough money to buy whatever we want, whenever we want!
And, read on for the best ways to save money and build an emergency fund to protect your financial future…
1. Create a spending plan and set your budget goals. Create a simple, straightforward budget for the year and monitor it monthly or weekly. Each month, review your progress and revise your budget as needed.
2. Spend cash, not credit cards. Move away from credit cards and avoid going into debt, especially for daily, routine and ongoing purchases. Write checks or use automatic bill payments for bills, and withdraw enough cash or use a debit card for other expenses. Track withdrawals diligently to avoid going into overdraft.
3. Pay your bills on time. One of the best ways to save money is to remember that paying your bills on time is the most important element of building or rebuilding good credit. Keep bills in one location and check that spot weekly. Set up online payments or write due dates on a calendar to stay on track.
4. Save your money — don’t spend it! One of the best ways to save money is to plan to save 10 percent or more of your income, even if you can manage only a few dollars a week. If you get a raise, bonus, cash gift or other financial windfall, save it – or at least a portion of it.
5. Take care of your health. Money cannot buy good health, but poor health can cost a bundle. Exercise and eat well, get enough sleep and, in these stressful times, take time to pursue relaxation practices, whether that means spiritual practices, meditation, a workout or coffee with a friend.
6. Do more with less money. Take care of household maintenance, barter services or goods with friends or neighbors, and fix up old belongings rather than rushing to buy new ones. Some statistics say that people buy 30% more when shopping with a larger shopping cart — so even a small change like avoiding the store cart when possible could help you build an emergency fund.
7. Participate in a retirement plan (such as a 401K). Contribute to your company’s 401K retirement plan, especially if your employer matches contributions. If you are on your own for retirement savings, invest in an Individual IRA, Roth IRA and/or plan for self-employed persons.
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What are your goals for your future? Read 10 Tips for Achieving Financial Goals – Beyond “Use Cash”.
8. Obtain adequate life insurance. Insurance protects against expenses you cannot cover yourself. One of the best ways to save money in the long term — and build an emergency fund — is to buy life insurance to protect your family, auto insurance to cover your car, health insurance to provide for at least major medical incidents, and home or renter’s insurance to protect possessions from theft or disaster.
9. Pay your income taxes on time. File your income tax return on or before April 15, with any tax due, to avoid penalties. At the same time, adjust withholding if needed to account for changes in income. If your refund is large, have fewer taxes withheld so you are not giving an interest-free loan to the government!
10. Get help if you need it. If you lose your job, file for unemployment quickly – and it’ll be easier to save money and achieve your financial goals. Many states have payment delays that mean filers wait weeks for a check. If you are worried that you will be unable to pay rent, mortgage or other obligations, talk to your bank or a reputable debt resolution company to learn about your options.
Are you drowning in debt – and you can’t seem to stop spending money? Read Why Are Women Bad With Money? 7 Money Mistakes Women Make.
If you have any thoughts on these 10 best ways to save money and build an emergency fund, I welcome you below…