No. 1: Set a realistic savings goal
Start by setting a savings goal. It should be measurable, realistic and timely. You might feel ambitious and set a super-high savings goal, but you’d likely be setting yourself up for failure. When deciding on a savings goal, think of a specific purchase or benchmark you could realistically reach in 12 months. The goal should require self-discipline and a little sacrifice when it comes to spending (it is a goal, after all), but you shouldn’t overreach.
No. 2: Choose a savings account carefully
Be picky about where you keep your savings. Savings accounts vary widely when it comes to interest, fees and minimum balances, so do your research and find the one that’s right for you. Consider extra costs such as monthly service charges and ATM fees.
No. 3: Lack discipline? Make saving automatic
You might not have the discipline to set aside a portion of your paycheck for savings. So, make your contributions automatic. Banks often offer free services that will transfer a fixed amount of money from your checking account to your savings account every month.
No. 4: Set up a fund just for emergencies
Although your savings account might double as a rainy-day fund, if you’re savvy about saving you’ll have a fund dedicated solely to emergencies. Your savings account might be for big expenditures — like a down payment on a house or a car — but you should not touch the money in your emergency fund unless there’s an actual emergency. If you lose your job or have to go to the hospital, you’ll have something to fall back on without having to sacrifice the big purchase you’ve been saving for.
No. 5: Keep track of your spending
For one month, track every single penny you spend. You’ll learn exactly where your paycheck is going and where you’re overspending.
You might realize, for example, that you’re spending an obscene amount on coffee every week. Once you’re aware of that, you can limit your coffee-shop stops and put the rest of that money into savings.
Committing to a weekly savings goal may sound like a breeze, but can you stick with it?
Today, we bring you a 52-week savings challenge.
How to succeed in this challenge
Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche, a financial educator and author of “The One Week Budget,” says I could have just automated my savings rather than going through the struggle of putting money in a tangible piggy bank.
There is an “infinite” number of ways to tackle the 52-week money challenge, Kitces says.
“You can save $115 a month; you can save $30 or $40 a week; you can arrange it in any way that you want.”
1. Buy for the long run. Assume you’ll own your home for at least five years.
A home is a significant investment, not to mention a linchpin of stability. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, the majority of Americans who sold their homes last year had lived in their home for at least a decade before selling.
2. Buy to improve your life, not to speculate with your money.
Your home is more than a financial investment; it’s where you sleep, eat, host friends, raise your children — it’s where your life happens.
3. Focus on what’s important to you. Don’t be distracted by features you don’t need.
Today’s housing market is short on inventory, with 10 percent fewer homes on the market in November 2017 than November 2016.
4. Determine a budget and stick to it. Don’t look at houses above that budget.
It’s important to set a budget early — ideally before you even start looking at homes. In today’s market, especially in the more competitive markets, it’s incredibly easy to go over budget — 29 percent of buyers who purchased last year did.
5. A 20 percent down payment is ideal. If you can’t afford that, consider a smaller down payment, or lower your budget.
If you can afford it, a 20 percent down payment is ideal.