These tips can help you save during those times when you think you can’t afford to do so

Coins, Pens, and Form / Are You Working with a Tight Budget Now? You Can Still Save for the Future
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January 31, 2017

It's a question that almost everyone faces at some point: how can you afford to save for the future when your budget has no money to spare now?

It is difficult, but it is not impossible. Here are 10 tips that can help you save during those times when you think you can't afford it.

  1. Identify small expenses that add up over time.
  2. Make a record of every single expense you have for one month. One way to do this is to save all of your bills and receipts over the month and then stack them into groups with categories like "utilities" and "groceries." It might surprise you to see how much you're spending on dining out or impulse buys. That's money you can set aside for the future.

  3. Comparison shop.
  4. If you compare prices at different stores before you buy something, you can often find a lower price on necessities like food, transportation, and insurance. This will leave you with more money left over that you can save. One good habit to get into is to make a grocery list, take it with you when you go shopping, and stick to it. This will help you stop yourself from making impulse buys.

  5. Limit spending on gifts.
  6. Limit the amounts you spend on birthdays and holidays, especially Christmas. Your friends and family will most likely appreciate one or two thoughtful gifts more than several gifts that you put less thought into.

  7. Put all loose change into a savings account.
  8. Though fewer people use cash today than in yesteryear, putting loose change into a savings account could still add up to more than $100 per year for many people.

  9. Request that your bank or credit union automatically transfer money each money from your checking to your savings account.
  10. Out of sight, out of mind. The easiest and most effective method for saving is to do it automatically. Even as little as $10 or $15 per month will help.

  11. Build up an emergency fund so you won't have to get a loan for unexpected purchases.
  12. It is generally best to keep emergency funds in a savings or share account even though these accounts pay only a low interest rate. This is because it will be easy to access this money when you need it. Make sure to keep the account balance high enough to avoid any monthly fees.

  13. Don't use high-interest credit cards or payday loans.
  14. If you're thinking about taking out a payday loan, consider this first: payday loans usually charge interest rates of 500 percent. Similarly, the high-interest credit card rates can run up to 25 percent. You can save hundreds—even thousands—of dollars every year by paying off these debts if you have them and, if you don't, by avoiding taking them out in the first place.

  15. Find out if you qualify for an Earned Income Tax Credit.
  16. Every year, many low- and moderate-income workers qualify for an Earned Income Tax Credit that may be over $1,000 and is often more than $2,000. If you qualify, use at least half of the money to pay down debt and save.

  17. Take part in a local Investment Development Account (IDA) program.
  18. In exchange for attending sessions on financial education and agreeing to save for either a house, education, or business, participants usually get $2 for every $1 they save through IDA programs. Saving $25 per month could add up to $900 at the end of the year.

  19. Accept any matches to retirement savings contributions that are made by your employer.

Does your employer offer to match your retirement savings contribution? Accept it! You lose money if you don't contribute up to the amount they match.

Editor's note: America Saves is a campaign coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America, of which NCCC is a member organization.

Source: America Saves