Saving money can seem like a difficult task when you have bills to pay and want to also have some money to enjoy the nice things in life. But simple changes could make all the difference. Lots of us have bad money habits which, if changed, could set us on the path to becoming super savers.
Do you have any bad savings habits? Read on to see if you agree with any of the following questions.
1. Do you dip into your savings immediately?
Starting to save is a great first step, but if you dip into your money and transfer it back to your checking account whenever you want, then you won't get very far. It's important to resist the temptation of spending your savings. Saving is about putting money aside and leaving it there until you absolutely need it. One way of making this easier is to have separate 'pots' of money – one for everyday expenses, and the other earmarked as untouchable, long-term savings. Keep your savings account somewhere you won't see it all the time - maybe even with a different bank to your regular account or with a savings-specific app like Digit.
2. Do you avoid investments?
Interest rates are very low on cash savings accounts, so it's unlikely to see much growth. With inflation taken into account, you could even be losing money in real terms over time.
Investing may feel risky, but history shows the returns beat cash savings accounts over the long-term. Investing is a way of ensuring your money works for you. Investments can go up or down, so it's vital to ensure you're in it for the long run (at least ten years) and that you understand what you're buying. Seek advice from experts before you invest if you are unsure.
3. Are you saving without a budget?
It's easy to spend money without realizing it. Lots of us spend our hard-earned cash on small non-essentials which can really add up.
Tracking your expenses can help you figure out where your money is going and what you can cut back on. Tools like Mint can help automate this if you want a jump start. Try to set a spending budget that you'll actually stick to and then put the rest into savings. Small sacrifices can reap significant rewards.
4. Are you paying the minimum on your credit card?
Paying the minimum on your credit card bill and then putting the rest of your money into a savings account could actually have a negative effect. This is because you'll end up paying lots of money in interest on your card's outstanding balance, which will cancel out the interest you earn on your savings. Paying off your full credit card balance each month will benefit your savings more in the long-run. An easy way of doing this is to set up a monthly payment from your current account to your credit card company. Learn more about the minimum repayment trap and how much it might be costing you here.
You can also see if you could be saving money on your monthly repayments by consolidating your credit card debt with a low-interest loan that allows you to save a little cash every month.
5. Are your targets unrealistic?
It's a great idea to have a savings target because it will help you to stay motivated.
But if your targets are unrealistic, you'll merely be setting yourself up for disappointment. Creating savings goals that are actually realistic is a bit of an art, and incredibly motivating to work towards.
Don't worry if you've answered 'yes' to a few, or even all, of these questions. If you've got bad savings habits, there's no better time than now to try to break them. Reassess your habits and start your journey towards becoming a smarter saver.