One of the most intimidating tasks we face as parents is budgeting. Car seats, preschool, daycare, various lessons, college funds… the list could go on forever. So what can we do to help combat the stress and worry of future costs? Sure, opening a savings account is easy, but what can we do to ensure that the balance continues to grow? Below are some tips and tricks to help you make saving money a part of your daily routine.
First things first, let’s start with some old-fashioned research. Do your due diligence. Ask around, get advice, or seek out assistance from your local banker or financial adviser. Chances are your bank has a licensed professional on staff who will make an appointment with you to discuss your needs, no commitment necessary. They will be able to answer your questions about 529 plans (a state sponsored college savings account), custodial savings accounts, and investment options for future savings.
Remember, the word investment often sounds more intimidating than it actually is. A banking professional can provide you with information and insight on the type of plan or account that best suits the needs of you and your family. Be sure to ask questions about details like taxes and fees, funds accessibility, and deposit options (like how much and how frequently you can deposit per year).
Make a Plan
Building up a savings account is something everyone knows they should be doing, but very few people have an active plan in place. Once you have the account set up, how do you go about growing the balance? To put it simply, one of the most popular tips to help build a savings account is to put the funds away before they touch your wallet. Talk to your bank about setting up automatic payments that link directly to your savings account. If you put it away before you have a chance to spend it, you’ll have to make a dedicated effort to retrieve those funds, which will hopefully make you think long and hard about your purchase(s).
Keep in mind, not all savings or investment accounts require large opening balances anymore, so it’s much easier to open an account that will earn interest as it sits. Work on putting small sums into a savings account and when you hit a small goal (say $500), move it into the larger investment account. That way, in the event you need to access those funds for an emergency, you have them.
Think Outside the Box
- Try designating specific funds for specific accounts. For example, if you use a shopping app like Ebates or a credit card to earn cash back, take those checks and deposit them directly into your savings.
- Challenge yourself to be mindful of the money you spend every day, and turn it into a fast way to add to your savings. If you have a coffee habit, use your online banking access to flip $5 into a savings account every time you’re sitting in the Starbucks line. It will help you build a balance faster, and may help you cut back on your caffeine at the same time.
- Software developers are constantly coming out with new apps to make things easier on the everyday consumer. Look for an app devoted to budgeting like Daily Budget, or download a savings app like Acorns to help you save automatically. Acorns actually takes the “spare change” from purchases that you have made, and puts it into a small investment account every month, making your change work for you.
Remember that saving money should still be comfortable, and every little bit counts. Use these suggestions to make a plan that works for your family and your goals.