With summer coming to a close, you are wrapping up your vacation days, getting the children ready for a new school year, and browsing the aisles for the new fall merchandise; yet, you are quickly reminded it is time to get back into a daily routine of saving money.
Often times, a common routine that has slipped our minds is saving your money. You spent the summer traveling and enjoying your hard earned and saved money that you have realized the holiday season is quickly approaching.
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With these fears, it is time to start prepping and get your finances back in order. I am going to provide you with 4 Easy Steps to Save for the Holiday Season that will limit the impact to your wallet while saving money for gifts and presents so you can play Santa Claus again.
These easy ways to save are:
Automate your savings
Set weekly goals
Pay yourself first
Get rid of your debt
"The habit of saving is itself an education; it fosters every virtue, teaches self-denial, cultivates the sense of order..."
-Thomas T. Munger
#1 Automate Your Savings
When it comes to saving money, you are probably saying that you don’t have any money in the budget to save. While that may be true, an easy way to mitigate this is by automating where your money goes. Download an app like Qapital. It links to your bank account and recognizes when purchases are made. You have full control to establish rules with this app informing it that when a purchase is made, for example, you want the app to round this number to the nearest dollar and put the difference in an escrow account held by Qapital.
The next time you buy groceries and spent $126.33 on food, you can set a rule in the app once it is downloaded to round up purchases. In this case, $127 is the rounded up number. Qapital will pull $0.77 from your personal checking account or whichever account you designate while the grocery store receives the $126.33. This $0.77 will not be missed, if you are honest with yourself.
Between now and Christmas, this regular grocery shopping trip will add up over time, but we both know you buy more than just groceries, i.e. coffee shops, fast food, entertainment. Even if Qapital was saving you a minimal of $5 per week, you would find at least $100 saved in an escrow and wouldn’t feel the impacts from your budget. Look at this as an extra $100 to buy presents.
#2 Set Weekly Goals
Saving money can be a mental game. Let’s face it, you don’t want to be told what to do with your money. After all, you are the one who woke up early everyday this week to hustle into work and deal with the daily stress of earning a paycheck. The last thing you want now is to be told “You Have to Save It!”. It’s your money and you feel like you can do with it whatever you want. Yes and no. One day it will run out. That is the truth. But, you must condition your mindset that it isn’t money to frivolously spend on items needed in the house or can be used on the weekends during your splurge moments.
By establishing weekly goals, start small aiming for $10 a week. If you can save more, then perfect but don’t put a larger amount in this pot of savings if you find yourself later tapping into it to make bill payments or to use so you can go see a movie. Make a rule to not touch it until your predetermined date, for example Black Friday. What you are going to find with this small weekly goal is how easy it is. You have conditioned your mind that $10 a week has no impact to your life. Once that happens, increase it to $20 a week.
By setting milestones, you will quickly see your savings increase. I highly recommend you getting a separate account to save it in. When you blend it into your regular checkings account, you are tempted to spend it. You have to remove the temptation and fence it off. Put up Warning Signs or Military Property Mental Images that it is Off Limits! Get a FREE checking account today at USAA and avoid monthly banking fees.
#3 Pay Yourself First
Growing up you may have learned to always pay your bills first and what money is left over is yours to keep. This has conditioned us to think backwards and while I am not suggesting to not pay your bills, You Must Pay Your Bills, but rather let’s turn that mental thought around and pay yourself first.
Do not start off extravagant but set a 5-10% goal of each paycheck. By setting aside this amount initially before you do anything else with your money, it makes you think carefully how to stretch out your paychecks. This is vital because as humans, every time we are given a raise at work, we raise our living standards. Perhaps you purchase a nice automobile, a new phone, or update your wardrobe. Humans are conditioned to better their livelihood. Think back to your first job and to your first apartment. Odds are you are living better today than back then and you have acquired more “stuff” as Dave Ramsey would put it.
Paying yourself before paying bills helps to regulate your spending appetite. It forces you to make wiser budgeting decisions and helps to keep any frivolous spending habits you may have in check.
#4 Get Rid of Your Debt
This may seem obvious and you are continually reminded of it. But as your money coach, I am here to write to you that while you may be reminded of it, I question if you are doing it. Coaches remind, enforce, and motivate. Be reminded that debt pulls your net worth down, not up, and you cannot achieve financial freedom with debt.
The faster you payoff your credit cards, loans, mortgages, or other recurring bills, the easier it will be to save your money. Do not underestimate how much you owe or leave bills on your counter unopened. These financial problems will not disappear. According to the American Psychological Association, 72% of Americans feel stressed about money so recognize you are not alone. That is why is it vital and crucially important to get control of your finances and get this debt paid off.
As we are saying farewell to the summer season and push to forward to the season of falling leaves, pumpkin spice and the holidays, you must realign your focus and get your finances back on track. In this article, I have outlined four strategies to saving money that will help you before the holiday season approaches. By automating your savings, setting regular weekly goals, paying yourself first and knocking out your debt, you will see your money start stacking up building your net worth and that in itself is a great blessing and gift.