Pay yourself firstWe all know we should be saving money, especially in these troubled economic times. If you're like most people, though, you just don't seem to have any money left to save at the end of the month. Take heart: With a few tweaks to your spending style, you can pack away thousands of dollars in no time. Read on to find out how.
Put Your Savings on Auto-Pilot
You've probably heard the axiom that the best way to save is to "pay yourself first." An easy way to do that is to automate your savings. Most banks provide the option for automatic monthly transfers from your checking to your savings account. Even easier: Employers that offer direct deposit can often split your paycheck according to your specifications. If you're paid twice a month, try channeling $50 per pay period directly to your savings. You won't even miss it - but if you find that you do, your money is easy to get to.
Find a Savings Account That Works for You
The benefit of a savings account is that, unlike a typical checking account, it pays you compound interest. But if you're saving with a big consumer bank, chances are that your interest rate is negligible - a yield below .5% is common. Online banks such as ING Direct and HSBC Direct offer rates several times higher than the national average, with no fees or minimums. If you're uncomfortable going Internet-only with your money, check your local credit union for a better deal. The difference in your wallet could be hundreds of dollars a year.
Audit Your Subscriptions
Are you paying over $100 a month for premium cable channels you never watch? Are you forking over $20 to Netflix for the privilege of having three movies sitting on your coffee table, unwatched? Are you keeping your gym membership open because you just know you'll get back in there soon? Take a hard look at those seemingly trivial subscription fees getting zapped from your account each month. They can really add up.
Stop Buying on Credit
According to the credit monitoring agency TransUnion, the average credit card debt per borrower is $1,673. Assuming you're paying the average interest rate of 13.54%, that's nearly $20 a month in interest payments alone! And if you pay only the minimum, it will take years to vanquish this debt. Instead of letting interest benefit the credit card companies, let it go to work for you. Pay off your credit card debts as soon as possible, and put the difference into your savings account.