It’s a sad truth that most Americans who make New Year’s resolutions fail to keep them for more than a month or even just a few days. This week we are looking at common resolutions that are great goals for any time of the year. So far we have covered sticking to a budget and living with healthy goals. Today we’re talking savings.
Our friends at NerdWallet.com wrote last year about how much the average American is stashing away. It turns out, it’s not enough.
While most experts recommend committing at least ten to fifteen percent of income to savings, the average American is saving less than five percent. Why is that rate so low? Well, part of the problem is that saving money can be difficult. For some the problem may be that they simply aren’t making enough money to live on and are struggling to get by today without saving for tomorrow. For some folks it just isn’t a priority. They would rather have a bigger house, premium cable, or just “live in the now” rather than have money for later.
For others, the inability to save money is a simple lack of discipline. If you’re the kind of person who wants to save money but never actually do because you forget and spend the money on something frivolous and think you’ll save extra next pay – we’re looking at you.
Don’t worry, this won’t be complicated. We have just one word for you: Automation.
Automation is a beautiful thing when it comes to building good habits and it’s especially helpful when committing to a savings plan. If your employer has a 401k or other type of retirement plan, set up automatic payroll contributions. The money is distributed to your 401k from your paycheck and it’s almost as though you never had the money in the first place.
If you want the money to collect in another type of savings account, say an Passbook Savings at VCNB (see how we snuck ourselves into the story?) you can set up automatic transfers for whatever amount you want, when you like. The best plan is probably to schedule the transfer on payday or the day after. That way, it’s done first thing and you aren’t tempted to spend rather than save.
One more thing: a lot of savers enjoy success making games out of saving money. For example, they stash every $5 bill they get or keep a change jar. There’s a great chart where you save an increasing amount for every week of the year. The plan is to save one dollar the first week of the year, two dollars the second week, three dollars the third week of the year. By the last week of the year, savers on this plan are saving $52. Those who follow the plan ease their way into saving regularly and accumulating over a thousand dollars in one year.
For many people, the key to sticking to a savings plan is automation. For others it’s making it easy and fun. Consider your personality and get started! Even if you can’t save fifteen percent of your income, save what you can today and work up to more.
We’re talking resolutions all week so check back tomorrow!