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Between stock market volatility and the federal government shutdown we might all be feeling the need to save more right now. But let’s be honest. Saving money is incredibly hard. Like running-a-marathon-after-eating-Thanksgiving-dinner hard. For many, the hardest part is just getting started. Raise your hand if you want to work a full day, make dinner, put the kids to bed and then stare at spreadsheets before you collapse into bed.
But what if you saved a little more every year? Imagine how good you’d feel about yourself if your money was moving in the right direction. With a little planning you can pay down existing debt, fund your IRA for retirement and take an annual vacation to celebrate the new ‘saving you.’ Whether it’s a new Money Market account to invest that annual bonus or a special savings account to collect just-for-fun money, not all savings plans are created equal. These ideas are here to help you jumpstart and fulfill your savings goals, your way.
One the best places to start is figuring out what kind of saver you are. Are you a natural saver, a reluctant saver or a rarely-if-ever saver? The honest answer to that question can help you set up the right kind of savings plan.
Gabe Norris, VP innovation product lead for Umpqua, spends a lot of time thinking about how people relate to money. “You really have to know yourself,” says Gabe. “If you’re having trouble saving, try to identify the why behind it. Then you can set up a system that addresses your weakness.”
For example, Umpqua client advisor Lauren Livick recommends ‘hiding’ money where you can’t see it.
“For me, the best way to save is by putting it somewhere I can't see it or touch it,” says Lauren. “It's like if I see a dessert on the table in front of me. If I see it and smell it, I want it. If I hide my savings in an account that’s hard to reach, I'm way less tempted to dip into it. I’ve recommended this style of saving to a few clients and so far the results are encouraging.”
Umpqua makes it easy to “hide” your savings in a Grow Savings account that only takes a few minutes to set up.
No matter how much or how little you make, there’s always a way to save. Sam Dogen is a great resource. In 2009 he started Financial Samurai, a financial newsletter geared towards helping people better manage their money. The site offers a plethora of interesting advice but in one of our favorite posts he details how he was able to save money living on a mere $40,000 in Manhattan. If Sam could save money on a 40k salary in New York, anything is possible. For most of us, it starts with identifying a few good short and long-term saving opportunities.
Create a budget
Figure out how much you make and how much you spend every month. It really is that simple. Then start figuring out ways you can spend less and save more.
Set up an emergency fund
Before you start saving for anything else, set up an emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of living expenses in case anything goes wrong.
If you don’t trust yourself to save, sign up for one of the many automated tools that easily transfer money from your checking account to a savings account. Digit and Qapital are two of the more popular apps available or just link your Umpqua checking account to a savings account and set up an automatic transfer.
Cut the cord
If you’re still paying large cable bills every month, don’t be silly. Hulu, YouTube, Playstation Vue and Sling TV all offer low cost live TV services at a much more reasonable price.
Switch cell phone plans
Changing your plan is an easy way to save money. Call your carrier and see how much data you’ve been using every month. You might find you can downgrade and save an extra $20 or $40 per month simply by asking the question.
Refinance your mortgage and car loan
If you can land a slightly lower interest rate on either loan, you can potentially save a few hundred dollars every month. That money that can be used to pay down other debt or be invested for your retirement.
Fund your retirement accounts first
Before you pay others, pay yourself. Figure out how much you can contribute to a Roth IRA or your 403(b) and have the money go directly from your paycheck to those accounts. This Wall Street Journal piece on saving explains the reasoning.
Save for something important
It helps to have something to strive for. Maybe you’re saving for a new house. Or your child’s education. Or retirement. Set a goal and contribute a little bit to that goal every month. You’ll be surprised by how fast it adds up.
Goals are good, but sometimes just taking action is the goal. Start your year of saving and doing by tapping into an Umpqua savings account that grows with you.