Resolutions 2012 – 4 Steps to Saving More

Americans don’t save like they used to, but they may be realizing it’s a good idea to start.

Historical data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows the personal savings rate – the percent of disposable income we don’t spend – was 7 percent at the start of the ’90s, but dropped as low as 1.5 percent by 2005. The recession brought it back up above 5 percent, where hopefully it will remain.

Saving more is often among the most popular New Year’s resolutions, and if it’s yours too, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has advice on getting started in the video below. Check it out, then read on for more.

Like Stacy said, saving more isn’t about getting a big raise or changing your entire life. It’s about taking step after step toward getting the things you care about. Here’s how you do it…

1. Step 1: Set a specific goal.

As we explained last week in Resolutions 2012 – Budgeting Your Way to Happiness, the best way to prioritize long-term goals (getting out of debt, buying a house) over short-term ones (eating out, seeing a movie) is to come up with something compelling and make it as specific as possible. If you don’t map out your road to success, you’re bound to make a wrong turn somewhere. Here’s the example we gave the other day: “By Jan. 1, 2013, I will have $25,000 saved, so I can make a 20 percent down payment on a house that costs $125,000.” Notice the end date and the fixed amount – no wiggle room.

Choose something that fits your priorities and finances; an emergency fund adequate to pay all your bills for at least three months is a good place to start. According to CareerBuilder, 42 percent of workers live paycheck to paycheck – and that includes many people making six figures!

2. Step 2: Pay yourself first.

A common approach to saving is “keep what’s left at the end of the month.” If you’ve ever tried it, you know it doesn’t work well – there’s rarely anything left. Try this instead: Treat your goal like your most important bill. Think of it as money you owe yourself, due on a certain date.

Want to make it even easier? Enroll in the retirement program at work and have the money taken out of your paycheck automatically. You’re less likely to miss what you never see in the first place. This is an even better idea if your employer matches your contributions – free money! And if your employer doesn’t have anything like a 401(k) program, you can still automate a regular transfer to savings through your bank account. Pretty low interest rate, but a penny saved is still a penny earned.

3. Step 3: Find extra money.

As Stacy said, saving soon is more important than saving big. If all you can squeeze into savings is $25 a month, start there. Then learn the 10 Golden Rules of Saving on Everything so you can find extra cash.

Next, look for more savings by adjusting your spending plan – if your grocery budget is high, check out 28 Tasty Ways to Save on Food. Got a gas guzzler? We’ve got 28 Ways to Save on Gas. You can cut down your bills too – check out 6 Easy Ways to Save Energy and 3 Steps to Cut Your Cable Bill 90 Percent. Whatever the budget item, there are savings to be had which you can put toward your goal.

Think about all the little fees you pay, grumble about, and then forget on a daily basis. Come up with ways to nickel-and-dime yourself to wealth: When you tip a waitress, tip yourself. When you pay your bills on time, save the avoided late fee. Charge a few quarters for a load of laundry, even if the washer doesn’t. Buy one, get one free? Pay for the second, into savings.

4. Grow big.

You work hard for your money, but when you save, your money works hard for you – if you put it in the right places.

Here’s a scenario to demonstrate the miracle of compound interest: Say you save $150 a month. Do that for 20 years without investing it and you have $36,000. That’s not chump change, but look at what you end up with at various interest rates…

  • At 2 percent – $44,219
  • At 5 percent – $61,655
  • At 10 percent – $113,905
  • At 15 percent – $224,586

But before you start salivating, realize those returns won’t happen without real risk – 10-year Treasury bonds right now yield below 2 percent, and looking at our savings search tool, you can’t even earn that rate on a five-year CD these days. That basically leaves stocks. New to the idea? Educate yourself. You can start by checking out 5 Tips for Young Investors and What to Know Before You Invest in Stocks.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
10 Products That Upgrade Your Home for Less Than $45
10 Products That Upgrade Your Home for Less Than $45

Make a fresh start with these affordable Amazon buys.

7 Things You Should Buy at Estate Sales
7 Things You Should Buy at Estate Sales

Here’s what an experienced estate sale shopper considers a great find.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money
17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money

Here’s how to cut household costs and maintain your property’s value.

5 Common Medical Expenses That Medicare Won’t Pay For
5 Common Medical Expenses That Medicare Won’t Pay For

Don’t let these health care costs catch you off guard in retirement.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco
9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco

Are you missing out on serious savings at your favorite warehouse club?

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50
7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50

As we age, our bodies wear down. Here is how to cut costs associated with some common ailments.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.