Having money in savings is a key aspect of financial security, but not a whole lot of people are doing it. In fact, according to The Washington Post, 71% of Americans aren’t saving enough. Egads!
If this is you, don’t panic just yet. You can literally start saving TODAY, and you’ll already be in a better financial position than you were yesterday. It just may be time to take a hard look at your spending habits – and break the ones that are keeping you from putting money away each month.
So without further ado, here are 5 bad habits to quit to improve your finances:
1You’re not tracking your spending
Little transactions — a cup of coffee here, a drink there — add up quick, and if you’re not tracking how much you average on purchases like this per month, you might be spending too much. Luckily, there’s an easy fix. Apps like Mint and Level sync up to your checking account and categorize your spending habits for you, so you can easily see that you’re actually spending double what you thought on morning lattes. Apps like this will also point out subscriptions and services you may have forgotten you’re even paying for.
Use the app to see the areas in your life where you can cut back, and divert that cash to your savings accounts instead.
2You’re paying yourself last
If you’re waiting until the end of the month to see how much leftover money you can save, you’re doing it wrong. This is a surefire way to almost always have less money to put toward savings than you hoped for. Transfer money into savings as soon as you get paid (yes, like, the same day) and then rest easy that the leftover money in your account is for bills and fun. If things get tight and uncomfortable before the next paycheck, you’ll know you need to moderate your spending habits.
3You’re not getting on top of your debt
If you have any high-interest debt (credit card debt, for example), you need to be tackling that ASAP to get your financial health on track. Generally speaking, there’s no reason to be setting money aside in savings if you have credit card debt racking up interest. Instead, make a plan to put as much money as possible toward your debt as soon as your paycheck comes in – and get ready to start saving once your credit card is paid off.
4You only have one savings account
That’s right, you should have more than one of these babies! There are lots of things to save for: Emergencies, retirement, and big life purchases, like homes and cars. Create a separate savings account for each of your savings goals, and designate a set amount of money to go to each account every single month. Pick an online bank that won’t charge you extra – and might even have a higher interest rate than conventional banks, so your money makes you money.
5You haven’t automated your monthly savings
When in doubt, automate! After you’ve set your savings goals, set up automatic transfers to your savings account(s) as soon as your paychecks come in. We’re only human, which means it’s all too easy to be tempted by a new gorgeous pair of shoes or spontaneous vacation — so making saving something you don’t even need to think about will help you prevent over-spending.
Look, we know money is stressful, and saving is hard! But getting control of your finances is one of the best things you can do to empower yourself and set yourself up for a successful life. What are you waiting for?