Cut your overhead. This the "double latte
factor," Bach says. "Almost every bill you
have, you can get it lowered." Here's how:
Think of certain monthly bills as fixed expenses --
phone, cable, cellular bill, Internet service, etc.
But they're not as immutable as you think. Go through
each one and find the fat. "The average person
pays $80 for cable when you can get a cable package
available for $19.95," Bach says. "See if
you can cut back or get a better deal." Are you
using all of your cell minutes? If not, how about a
cheaper plan? On long distance, do you need the plan
you're using or would a cheaper version (or one with
another carrier) net you a nice savings? Carrying a
credit card balance? Call to find out if you can get
the interest rate lowered, then tally up the money you've
saved and arrange for an automatic deposit to your savings
account of the same amount. For one couple Bach worked
with, the answer was car pooling. The wife was a teacher,
so finding a car-pool partner on the same work schedule
was possible. "Instead of filling up the car every
week, they're filling it up every two weeks," says
Bach. As a result, there is an extra $50 to $100 every
month going into their savings account.
Tax yourself. Every time you buy a nonessential,
put 10 percent of the purchase price in an envelope,
says Godfrey. At the end of the month, the contents
go into savings. "It makes your purchases more
expensive, but at least you're putting some money in
the right place," she says.
Make saving a family priority. Get kids in the
habit of saving, too. One good way is to make it a rule
that one-third of all income -- whether it's allowance,
eanings or gifts from grandparents -- goes immediately
into savings, says Godfrey. Another of her favorites:
Add some sort of matching component to the child's savings
efforts. But no more than dollar for dollar, she says.
"Because if you make the match too generous, it
gives the impression that saving is too easy."
Automate as much as you can. Sit down in the
beginning and determine just how much you want to put
away every month. Once you've cut back on bills and
expenses, have that money automatically deducted from
your paycheck or arrange for an automatic draft from
your checking account into your savings. That way, you
have a baseline amount you're racking up every month
without even thinking about it. And more important,
if you don't see the money, you're less likely to spend
it. Says Bach, "Save it automatically and leave
Do something regularly to remind yourself why you're
saving. Whether it's a bulletin board with photos
of your dream house or a "new car smell" air
freshener hanging from the rear view mirror, put your
goal front and center in your life. "There is no
silver bullet, no little trick," says Ramsey. It's
a matter of changing your focus, he says. "It has
to become an emotional priority."
Dana Dratch is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.