In our last installment of Financially LIT, we discussed navigating the troubled waters of debt. This month, we want to talk about preparing for the future—saving money. Saving doesn’t mean starving (although it may mean reducing how often you splurge). We’re going to discuss a few best practices to help you save for the future of your dreams.
Where should you save?
Many banks offer higher interests if you put your money in a savings account as opposed to a regular checking account. Similarly, Certificates of Deposit, where you give your funds to a bank for a promised amount of time, are also a good option to actually make money by doing nothing other than saving it, with the bank typically giving you a higher interest rate for these funds over time. However, they do require that you keep the funds locked up for a specific period of time, which varies across banks.
Mindset towards saving
Prioritizing our spending is important, but it’s almost just as important to prioritize how we save. Whether it’s a for a new concert tickets or a down payment on your first home, you are never too young to start saving money. The important thing is to review your budget first and factor your savings plan into your budget. First Independence Bank has a Savings Calculator to limit the guess work at https://www.firstindependence.com/resources/calculators/.
A good rule of thumb is to start with something manageable. Try taking the money you would’ve spent going out to lunch one day a week and put it in a savings account. Over time, add a little more. The goal is to get to the point where you can set aside 20% of your income without having to touch it. This is generally just enough to build up a sizeable amount of untouched funds over time, while still covering everyday expenses. Like most things in life, devising your savings plan is a constant battle between what you want now, and what you want most. Age and current income will likely dictate what that looks like for each of us. For example, age 16, saving for a car might be thing to put above everything else if you’re about to get your driver’s license. At 25, with a stable job, it might be time to consider how much skipping a vacation this year could potentially speed up your timeline towards making a down payment on your dream home. Other things you may want to consider saving for include:
- Retirement: 401Ks and IRAs offer opportunities to put pre-tax dollars aside for retirement, but they also can come with penalties for withdrawing your money before you are of age for retirement.
- Sending your children (or yourself) to college- 529 savings plans offer tax benefits for those looking to save specifically for college, although early withdrawal penalties can apply.
- Rainy day funds
- Loss of income or employment
A theme in a couple of these is saving for the unexpected. We’ve seen the rash of natural disasters all over the country wipe out homes and sources of income more than ever in recent years. Even our own government is currently shut down, potentially delaying tax refunds that thousands of Americans rely on each year. These real-world occurrences are just a couple of the demonstrations of how we never really know what could happen next that might affect our income, so it’s important to start saving now. Remember, every dollar counts when saving money—start small and work your way up. Your future you will thank you.