The secret of successful savings borrows from the tale of the tortoise and the hare: slow and steady wins the race.
But while it may be a winning strategy,
it's difficult to get motivated when your savings balance
is climbing that slowly. One way to keep your head in
the game: Sock away some extra -- especially in the
beginning -- so you can get enthused watching that balance
|Here are 11 strategies to help you jump-start your savings program:
|11 ways to jump-start
Set a clear goal. Are you putting money away
for a rainy day, a new car or retirement? Break the
concept into two categories, says Dave Ramsey, author
Total Money Makeover." "Investing is five
years or longer. Savings is five years or less." The
critical difference: "When you're saving, it's
not going to be the power of compounding interest that
helps you save," he says. "You're the big
thing -- the money you put in." That means you
have to have a goal and keep yourself motivated.
Use a jar. Put a quart-sized jar in plain view
and dump all your change in it every day from purses
or pockets. When it's full, take it to the bank or grocery
store change machine and put those funds into savings.
"You can collect $50 to $100 in no time with this
strategy," says Joline Godfrey, author of "Raising
Financially Fit Kids." And it's a little less
painful than trying to do without something you love."
Buy generic. Don't skip buying hair conditioner
or that special body wash, but check out the store's
version of the same product. Many times the formulas
use the same or similar ingredients for prices 25 percent
to 60 percent less. Do it for a month, and bank the
savings. It's a nice way to pull extra money out of
what looked like an empty pocket.
Do it yourself. David Bach, author of "The
Automatic Millionaire Workbook," calls this
your "latte factor." Find something you can
live without (or do yourself inexpensively), and put
what you would have spent in your savings. Make it a
temporary arrangement, just to kick off your savings
program. Knowing you don't have to stick with
it forever should make it a little easier. Look at what
might be eating your spare dollars. Vending machine
sodas and snacks? Morning caffeine fix? Admit you're
going to still have the craving, but stock up at a discount
store and supply your own drinks or munchies, then put
the cash you didn't spend into savings.
Plan a garage sale. OK, in this day and age,
your "garage" could be on eBay. The point
is, if you have goodies you haven't used in a couple
of years or more, cut your losses and put them up for
sale, then bank the results. Need help getting motivated?
"Partner with a friend to get it done," says
Pick up a pen. Write down what you spend. "It's
the dreaded 'B' word," says Ramsey. Budget. "When
you write down where the money is going, it has immense
power," he says. Most people fight the money-saving-spending
war "down in the trenches," he says. But writing
down where you spend your bucks will give you "the