How to Build Your Savings to Reach Your Financial Goals
Traveling, buying a home, paying for a wedding, building a safety net in case of an emergency or job loss — the list of reasons for learning how to build your savings can go on and on. Whatever your specific reason is for wanting to save more, you may benefit from the following strategies to build up your savings account to fund the goals that are most important to you.
Know What You Need to Save
Once you know what you want to save for, determine how much you need to save. Perhaps building your emergency fund tops your priority list right now. Most experts agree that you should try to keep six months of your take-home pay in a liquid savings account.
If your expenses total $3,000 a month, then you know you'll need $9,000 to $18,000 in your emergency fund. Assuming you want to have a full emergency savings account in 18 months, you'd need to save $500 to $1,000 per month to reach your goal.
Make Adjustments as Needed
What happens if you calculate how much you need to save each month, but you can't afford to put that much into savings at the moment? You could extend your time horizon and save less each month, but for a longer period of time. Or you could lower your savings goal so you don't have to save as much each month.
But if you want to know how to build your savings fast, the better approach might be looking at your current expenses and seeing what you can cut. This will free up more cash available to you each month, which you can then use to increase your contributions to your savings.
Find Clever Ways to Contribute to Savings Goals
Once you determine how much you want to save each month, it's time to get to work. Try using one of the strategies below to get more money into your savings accounts and keep it there:
- Keep Your Savings Separate: To eliminate the temptation of dipping into your savings accounts, keep your cash for savings separate from cash to spend. Open a savings account for each specific goal you have so that you can easily track your progress.
- Set up an Automatic Savings Plan: If you know you need to put $250 per month toward a particular goal, go to your checking account and set up an automatic monthly contribution. Set it to transfer right after you get paid each month, so you're "paying yourself first" and you don't feel tempted to spend the money instead. You can also sign up for a service like KeyBank's EasyUpSM, which transfers $1 to your savings every time you use your KeyBank debit card.
- Turn it into a Game: Gamifying the process may make it more fun. You can try a "no spend" weekend or even the 52-week savings challenge, which is a good system to steadily build up a lot of savings over the course of a year.
- Patch Your Budget Leaks: Did you subscribe to something that you no longer use, but still pay for? Eliminate these money-wasters from your budget so you can put that money into savings instead. You may also want to try cutting cable and switching to streaming services, and cooking more instead of dining out.
Ultimately, the best way to increase your savings is to start now. The sooner you begin, the easier it will be to increase your balances. Keep an eye out for new savings strategies as you go, and don't be afraid to try new things. By beginning now, using a few clever tricks, and staying proactive about finding even more ways to save, you'll reach your goals in no time.