How To Build a Better Savings Account

In March when we went into quarantine and both my husband and myself found ourselves out of work and without regular income, I was extremely grateful that we had money in savings and didn’t need to stress much to figure out how to pay bills and buy groceries. Unfortunately, I know that was not the case for everyone. I do know several people that find themselves living paycheck to paycheck. If you find yourself wanting to save more money but don’t know how, this post is for you.

I am not a financial advisor nor have I ever worked in finance, however, I have always been good at saving money and debt is one of my biggest fears. Growing up my mom was always running out of money a few days before payday, and we would cross our fingers and hope that what gas was left in the car would last until she got more money. Everything I have learned about saving money came from my own experiences and my husband who is just as invested in savings as I am. The tips that I’m sharing with you are all things we have done to build our savings account to a point where if we found ourselves without an income we could still pay all of our bills for several months.

  • Saving large sums of money
    • Save 20% of every check – The goal: Take 20% out of every paycheck to put into savings. This is based off of the 50-30-20 budget method. Most experts suggest 50% of your income should be spent on essentials (home, car, and groceries), 30% on elective purchases (concerts, movies, dining out), and 20% on savings. To make saving 20% of your income a bit easier I suggest putting that portion of every paycheck into your savings account before you do anything else. You should be able to use your online banking resource to set up an automatic deposit from your checking to savings. This will help ensure that you don’t spend money on expenses you could most likely go without.
  • Putting money aside
    • 52 week challenge – The goal: Save the corresponding dollar amount for each week of the year. For example, the first week of the year you will put aside $1, the second week of the year put aside $2, the third week $3 and so on until you reach the last week which will be $52. By the end of the year, you will have set aside $1,378! You can also do this challenge in reverse, which I highly recommend, that way you start the year saving the most amount per week and end the year with the smaller amounts. Before we were married my husband and I both did this challenge to save up for wedding expenses.
    • Save spare change – The goal: Collect all of your spare change in a piggy bank or jar until it becomes full then cash it in. I’m sure almost everyone has saved their spare change to cash in at a later time at some point in their life. I have done this my entire adult life, because it takes the least amount of effort and you don’t notice the money being taken from your checking account. It isn’t exactly going to make a huge dent in your finances but it is always nice to have any amount of extra money. By collecting all of my spare change I once saved over $300 and used it as extra spending money on vacation.
    • Save all $5 bills – The goal: Every time you get a $5 bill you set it aside. If you are someone who always pays with cash then this strategy might be something to try. Like saving change, this strategy won’t guarantee that you save a specific amount but it is still a great way to start a savings and because it is $5 rather than small amounts of change you can build your savings much faster.
Unfortunately the glass jar I store my spare change in did not survive the car ride to the bank.
  • Reward Programs
    • Target Circle – With the Target Circle app I can browse through a list of items with special offers. These offers are not advertised in store so in order to receive the discount, you need to save the offer to a list then apply it at checkout. You can also earn benefits through the app that can be applied to your total. For instance I currently have $0.75 that can be taken off my order total. I love to use this for groceries, cleaning, and health items mostly. I just started using the Target Circle app earlier this year and I have already amassed a savings of $29.78.
    • Starbucks – Taryn: I downloaded the Starbucks app during the pandemic when that was the only way to order from them. I’m not usually a phone app person, but now that they allow in-person ordering, I’m still using the app. The app allows you to order and pay ahead and just wait in the pickup area (not that Starbucks is normally slow though). Different items have different points and sometimes they’ll run promos where a particular item will earn you more points. Once you have points collected, you can get free items, from a basic hot coffee to a lunch sandwich. I go to Starbucks once a week, and I earn enough points to get about one free thing a month. So basically every fifth trip is free, which is great because I would have never known this option existed before downloading the app.
    • Ibotta – Alexys: I seriously love this app! It’s really easy to use, and most stores I shop at have an option to link accounts so no need to save receipts to take pictures of them. I saved over $100 in less than a year which I think goes a long way for a rainy day fund or end of the year splurge money. It is also super easy to transfer to my Paypal account, which I can then transfer to my bank account if needed. They have so many brand names, but also a lot of “10 cents back on any ___ product.”
A few items that I can receive a discount on through Target circle

Ideally you should try to have 3 to 6 months of living expenses saved. If that seems like too much then start with a smaller goal. Studies show that even having $5,000 set aside can make a huge difference in your financial well-being. It might even help to set a specific goal to reach. Maybe aim to save $500 in a six month time period. Or, if you’re trying to save money for a specific reason, like buying a new car or going on vacation, tape a picture of your dream car or vacation to your bathroom mirror so you have a daily reminder of what you’re trying to achieve.

For more ideas on how to save money, check out some of our other posts:

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