St. Patrick's Day brings to mind that famous pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Have you thought about if you could build your own pot of gold?
Your parents have probably stressed the importance of putting money aside for, well, as long as you can remember. “For a rainy day”; “for that vacation you want to take”; “for a house”; “for your future.” But let's face it: saving money is hard work. Between rent, gas, credit cards, and various other odds and ends, you're not usually left with much to spend – let alone save (especially in your 20's and early 30's!).
The good news is that saving money isn't nearly as difficult as you might imagine. In fact, that saying you've heard all your life is actually true: a little goes a long way. Saving doesn't mean going without and it also doesn't mean having to put in large amounts at once. It's doing what you can with what you've got. And doing it regularly.
A savings account is one way you can build your savings by “putting your money to work for you.” You simply make your regular savings contributions and then benefit from what Albert Einstein called “man's greatest invention” – compound interest. Simply put: the money you put into your account actually “grows” through the addition of interest.
Here's an example of how it can add up. Skip those lattes and save $5 a day — that's $35 a week. You'll save $1,820 in just a year. Now, if each week, you put that same $35 in a savings account paying 0.15% interest compounded daily, at the end of 40 years you end up saving nearly $69,112. With no extra effort. Of course, once you save $2,500 to $5,000, you’d want to transfer it to other savings accounts such as a Money Market or a CD where you can earn even more interest and make your money work even harder for you!
Now that you know about “man's greatest invention,” here are some more savings tips:
1) Create a budget. This the simplest task of all. Figure out what you'll have to subtract from your income each month and what you'll have leftover. It's easier to manage your finances when you know exactly where your money's going.
2) Open a savings account. At First Reliance Bank, we offer free and easy access to your account at all times, and also allow you to arrange for funds to automatically transfer from your checking account into your savings account.
3) Carry cash instead of your debit card. The more you have available, the more you're likely to spend – so limit yourself with a reasonable amount of cash when you go somewhere you know you'll be tempted to buy.
4) Coupons, coupons, coupons. You know those times you watched your mom skim the newspaper and clip away? She was shaving off a quarter (if not more) of her bill every time she used them. Check out websites like www.coupons.com, www.RetailMeNot.com, or www.SmartSource.com to view and print off coupons of your own.
5) Be resourceful. Use Living Social and Groupon as much as possible to take advantage of discounts. Sites like these allow you to save up to 90% off businesses in your area – more money you could be putting into your savings!
6) Limit the number of times you eat out. The average fast food meal costs $8. If you're buying lunch every work day, you're spending $40/week. That's $160/month (doubling to $320/month if you're eating two meals/day). Even worse: that doesn't even include meals on the weekends! Packing your lunch is a much smarter, healthier and affordable option.
7) Avoid “new.” The average price of a brand new car in the U.S. is $30,000. A brand new cell phone averages about $150. Consider buying a used car, or a refurbished cell phone off of the internet.
8) Avoid expensive groceries. Comparison shop. Buy store brands. Check for weekly specials. There are a number of ways around having to pay too much for your groceries.
With a little planning and smart financial decisions, you'll find yourself with the luck of the Irish and your own pot of gold!