People sometimes can’t decide what they should do, save money or pay off debt. They’re both good things and really both should be happening at the same time, but to what extent depends on your situation.
If you already have the start of an emergency fund and feel comfortable about life’s little emergencies, then putting more focus on debt is possible. If you don’t have any safety net for your budget, focusing on saving may be the better option.
Saving money really means taking money from your current self and putting it in the wallet of your future self. One secret to saving is making plans for your future self to enjoy. From that point on, there’s really only one way to make those plans a reality and that’s to save money.
The rule of thumb target is to set aside 10 percent of your pay before you do anything else. At the start this may seem daunting, but 10 percent and more can be saved on a continuous basis. That 10 percent can go to your 401(k), IRAs, your emergency fund, individual saving priorities like vacations, college, a down payment on a home, renovations or other retirement accounts.
Just like when you're spending, there’s always more to be done than you can possibly put aside for at the moment. Take account of your big financial picture and rank what you need to do and how much you’ll need.
Start with a goal for a $1,000 emergency fund and if your employer matches any contributions then make sure to take advantage of that. From there, set your priorities and your amounts and get started.
Other big milestones you can celebrate when saving include one month, three months and eventually six months of income, a full emergency fund for whatever your emergencies might entail, having 20 percent for a down payment on a home, and regular, automated contributions to retirement, college or other accounts.
Take a look at what you need for the future and make your future self as ready as they can be.
1. Set future priorities.
2. Find 10 percent to save in your budget.
3. Make a plan to start saving NOW.
Save 10 percent this month and leave it alone.
Download Mvelopes and set up a plan with your income and expenses to start saving money for your future self to enjoy.