Five Ways to Take Your Savings Account from Drab to Fab
by Michelle S. Lazurek
After our church plant had closed its doors due to lack of funds, we surveyed the barren rooms that once comprised our first home. Babies taking their first steps, nights of entertaining friends and rocking babies to sleep flooded my mind, all of which were now only distant memories. As we packed up the moving truck and looked back at our now vacant home, we said one last goodbye. What was once a great accomplishment was now something to be handed off to the next available buyer. Some of our loss was beyond our control. Pastors only get paid when church’s doors stay open. But some we could have prevented. If we had only built up a savings, perhaps we could have started over and not had to lose everything in the process.
Saving is hard. In this world of ever-creeping expenses and less discretionary income, many people are only living paycheck to paycheck. Saving money may seem impossible right now. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips for creating a financial cushion and send you well on your way toward financial freedom:
Start small. Maybe you don’t have any additional income once all the bills are paid, but are there little ways you can save? Use cash instead of debit and use a bigger dollar amount to pay the bills. Commit to saving the change in a jar. Save it for six months, then see how much you have. Roll it yourself and take it to the bank rather than utilizing a CoinStar kiosk. These machines may seem convenient, but they may rob you of a substantial portion of your savings by taking out fees. You can take it one step further and save the bills you get back too. A little can add up to a lot!
Cut the fat. Are there areas in which you can trim your expenses to make room for more discretionary income? Do you get a latte from Starbucks every day? Go out to eat often? Analyze your monthly expenses. Are there areas in which you are overspending? Bring your coffee in a travel mug with you or invest in a latte maker. The money you will save in one month making it from home will soon equal the amount spent on individual coffees over a year. Put the money you save in an account or envelope and don’t touch it. Use the amount to pay down credit card debt.
Take a financial course. Sometimes the reason why you have no savings is because you are not managing your money correctly. Howard Dayton and Dave Ramsey both have great resources on how to allocate your money in percentages that don’t take a bite out of your budget. Do your finances fit in the percentages they set to properly divide your funds? If you are overspending in one area, chances are you are skimping in others and that can spell disaster in case of an emergency. If you can’t afford it, your local community college or website may offer cheap budgeting classes, some with personal coaches that can give you feedback tailored to your needs.
Monetize your skills. You may be working a regular nine-to-five job, but what are you doing with the spare time after you leave work? Do you have a special skill or ability from which you can make some extra money? Do you have a flair for making beautiful crafts, play a musical instrument or have any expertise in an area? The Internet holds so many opportunities to launch a side business. Showcase your art on Etsy, teach music lessons to neighborhood kids or create an online course to sell to a target audience. You can make a viable income doing what you love and, given the right audience, make a little money on the side. The extra income can be the money you use to start a savings account. Be consistent and watch that savings total soar!
Small sacrifices mean big savings. When all of the above fails, you may need to make some sacrifices. Do you really need the premium sports cable package? Do you tend to leave the water running when you brush your teeth or wash your face? To reach your goal, you may have to make sacrifices to cut costs. Try streaming Hulu or Netflix and stop springing for cable. In some cases, you can save over a hundred dollars a month. If you pay for a landline (do people still have those?), switch to using only your cell phone for making phone calls. You’ll cut not only costs but also the amount those pesky telemarketers solicit you.
Having some extra money at the end of the month may not seem possible now. But with a little ingenuity, a willingness to cut corners and an extra measure of self-control, you may meet your financial goals sooner and afford you the opportunity to achieve your dreams and live a financially worry-free life.
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. She has been published over one hundred times in places such as Charisma Magazine, crosswalk.com and Christianity Today’s website Gifted For Leadership. She also teaches writers’ workshops for various places such as the Montrose Christian Writers conference. She is a member of the Christian Author’s Network and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Her newest book, An Invitation to the Table explores the biblical concept of hospitality. For more info, please visit her website at www.michellelazurek.com
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