Regular saving, even of small amounts, makes the most sense. Don't put it off until you have "extra" money to put away. The easiest and most painless way to do this is to take decision out of the equation by making saving automatic. That way, you're less likely to be torn between saving and splurging. And you don't have to remember to save. It just happens.
The easiest way to automate savings is to have part of your paycheck deposited directly into your savings account. Working with your company's accounts payable department, you usually can direct your bank to put a portion of your pay into checking and the rest -- say, $50 or $100 per week -- into savings. That's it. Every week, you'll be saving money without even thinking about it. And you'll be surprised at how quickly your savings accumulates.
If your employer offers a 401(k) retirement plan, you'll have an even better opportunity for saving for the future. Once you sign up for a 401(k), all you do is decide how much money you want to contribute to your plan from your pay. That amount goes into an investment plan of your choice and is not taxed. Many employers make additional, matching contributions as well, so your retirement savings add up even faster. You can learn more about these plans in How 401k Plans Work.
However, don't overestimate how much you can afford to save on a regular basis. It's better to save a little less than to raid your savings account on a regular basis -- or to pay a penalty for drawing money out of your 401(k) plan early. For more tips on building up your savings, check out the links below.
- 10 Budget Basics Every Parent Should Know
- 10 Green Living Ideas for Frugal Families
- 10 Tips for Staying on Budget
- 10 Tops for a Debt Free Life
- Can you penny pinch and still have fun? Frugal Living Quiz
- How Personal Budgets Work
- How to Know When to Spend and When to Save
- Why does having too many options make it harder to choose?
- Bank of America. "The Keep the Change program makes saving automatic." (October 27, 2011) http://www.bankofamerica.com/promos/jump/ktc_coinjar/index.cfm?&statecheck=NC
- Bankrate.com. "Investing in bonds: Introduction." (October 27, 2011) http://www.bankrate.com/brm/green/sav/svgs1e.asp
- Bankrate.com. "What is online banking?" (October 27, 2011) http://www.bankrate.com/brm/olbstep2.asp
- Burt, Erin. "Save Now, Retire Rich," Kiplinger, December 16, 2004. (October 27, 2011) http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/starting/archive/2004/st1216.htm
- CNN/Money. "What are defined contribution plans?" (October 27, 2011) http://money.cnn.com/retirement/guide/401k_basics.moneymag/index.htm
- Dollar Times. "Early Mortgage Payoff Calculator." (October 27, 2011) http://www.dollartimes.com/calculators/early-mortgage-payoff-calculator.htm
- Lowe, Jennifer. "Consumers save now, buy later," What Invesments, August 19,2008. (October 27, 2011) http://www.whatinvestment.co.uk/banking-and-savings/cash-accounts/580641/consumers-save-now-buy-later.thtml
- McCallion, Pauline. "Crunch encourages 'save now, buy later' attitude," Yourmoney.com, August 15, 2008. (October 27, 2011) http://www.yourmoney.com/news/2008/08/15/crunch_encourages_save_now_buy_later_attitude_/
- Mint.com. "The best free way to manage your money." (October 27, 2011) https://www.mint.com/
- Rapacon, Stacy. "7 Sneaky Savings Strategies for Generation Y," Kiplingers, February 26, 2010. (October 27, 2011) http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/starting/archive/7-sneaky-savings-strategies-for-generation-y.html
- St. Louis Fed. "Personal Savings Rate." (October 27, 2011) http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/data/PSAVERT.txt
- Singletary, Michelle. "The Best Way to Handle a Cash Windfall," NPR, May 30, 2006. (October 27, 2011) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5439371
- Treasury Direct. "Treasury Securities & Programs." (October 27, 2011) http://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/products/products.htm
- Wachovia."Way2Save® Account Agreement." (October 27, 2011) https://www.wachovia.com/foundation/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=c8fa5221e11aa110VgnVCM1000004b0d1872RCRD
HowStuffWorks talks to financial experts to find out the best ways to save money every day. And none of their advice includes giving up Starbucks.