Almost a full year ago we paid off the last of our student loans and began to build up our savings. Being debt free, other than our mortgage, gave us such a feeling of a weight being lifted off of us we didn’t even realize we had. But that was just the start of our journey. Once we paid off our debt, we then built up a 6-month emergency supply. This savings would let us take care of ourselves if my husband were to ever lose his job or one of us got really sick or some other emergency. Having a savings in place has given us peace of mind. Along the way, there are a few things I have learned that have helped us as a family to more easily save. Here are my tips for maximizing family savings:
First, it is important to have a savings account in place. I have found it works best to have a savings account that isn’t at the same bank as your checking account. When I previously tried to save, it was too easy to transfer over the funds or set up my bank to automatically transfer over from my savings if my account ever went low. Having my savings set aside where I don’t see it daily when I look at my checking account balance really helps to keep from tapping into our savings.
Next, make and stick to a budget. I created a simple budget planning worksheet in excel that I called my “cash flow”. I wrote down what days of the month bills would go out and what part of each paycheck I could assign to each of those bills and other monthly expenses. Then, at any day of the month I can compare my checking balance to this cash flow spreadsheet and see how much of a balance I should have and quickly see what bills are coming up next. This had made a huge difference in understanding where my money is and goes and working with my budget. Be sure to assign every dollar a “name” whether it be for a bill, to pay off debt, to add to your savings, or for groceries and other expenses.
Display your goals and make it easy to see your progress. I created a goals chart that we’ve been using this year and marking off what financial progress we have been making throughout the year. It can be hard to feel like you are accomplishing anything when your money just goes into a savings or retirement or towards other goals. I have found that having my goals and progress displayed somewhere I see them daily makes it easier to keep moving forward towards those goals without getting distracted.
What steps do you take to maximize your family savings?