When I first graduated college and had my first real paycheck I gloried in all my newfound disposable income. This inevitably led to high credit card bills and little savings. I finally got things turned around and you can, too. Consider the following strategies and you will quickly building your savings:
- Pay Yourself First. The easiest way to save money is to make it a priority. When your paycheck comes in at the first of the month, your first payment should be to your savings account. Don't wait until the end of the month and try to save what is left. If you're like most people, there is rarely money left at the end. We all find ways to spend cash, from the latte before work to the new jeans at the mall to the dinner out with friends.
- Make It Automatic. Make the savings automatic. You can contact your bank and have them set up an automatic withdrawal from checking to savings every month. Without the temptation of spending that extra amount, it's easier to save.
- Don't Pay Retail Prices. You can apply this tip to any number of spending items from cars to TVs. With the growth of online classifieds and auction websites such as Ebay, it is easier than ever to find great discounts. You should plan your purchases and rather than walking into the closest Best Buy for your new computer, do your research. You'll find discounts of 30% or more for the same item by shopping online or buying used.
- Pay attention to what you spend your money on. Track all the spending for a couple of months and add up what is spent on things like cell phone bills, Starbucks, lunches, etc. After you see where the money is going, make the changes that will save you money. You might plan more dinners in, bring lunch to work or rent movies instead of going to the theater.
Experts agree that you should put away at lease 12 months of living expenses in an FDIC-insured savings account in the event you have a disruption in your employment. After you've saved up this amount, look into other avenues for investing your savings, including stocks, bonds and real estate. Money you need in the next two to five years should be in a safe fixed-income investment, such as CDs or bonds. Any money you don't need in the next five to 10 years, you should look at investing in the stock market.
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