I’m a person who likes to crunch numbers, read pie charts, and revise my monthly budget until every dime is accounted for. Does this always work to my advantage? No, not really. Sometimes I spend too much time on a budget that just isn’t realistic only to be disappointed when my savings accounts stagnate. It also doesn’t help that my income fluctuates from one month to the next and I must average the total and fudge the numbers to really meet my goals.
But with all this tweaking, I’ve developed creative ways to save something – whether it’s 10% or $200 bucks here and there, I’m able to put even a little bit into different savings accounts. What’s worked for me has been a handful of tricks, that combined, help me save close to 10% of my total income (I’m working on increasing this amount to 15% over the next year, but it’s taking baby steps to get there!):
- Mark certain income as “savings” – Monetary gifts end up in savings, side income ends up in savings, and any gift card that I sell ends up in savings.
- Put aside a percentage – If I have extra income in any one month, I put aside a percentage, usually 10%, towards savings.
- Save it before you see it – I automatically have certain amounts throughout the month deducted for savings, that way it’s not available to spend.
Standard rules of thumb always sound so great, but may be difficult to achieve, like the 60% rule – spend only 60% on all of your basic needs and 40% on wants and saving. That’s a terrific idea, but when 40% of my income is allocated toward rent, it makes it hard to reduce all of my basic necessities to only 20% of what’s left.
Or what about the 50-30-20 rule? That sounds like a dream; spend 50% of your income on “needs”, 30% on “wants”, and 20% on savings and debt. Since my largest expense is rent and utilities (which are a need), there’s not much left over for “wants” or savings and debt. Reducing my “needs” is also tricky since I live in an expensive area.
However, rules are meant to be bent, broken, and changed. I might not be able to save 20% of my income, but starting with something more management (like 10%) at least points me in the right direction.
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