It really is true that it's never too late—or too early—to acquire some effective money saving habits. Of course, you can find ideas for how to save money all over the Web, but it’s a good idea to begin with the basics.
- Track Your Spending. You can't really figure out a money saving approach until you know where to save. That's why it helps to start tracking your spending. In addition to actually keeping a spending journal, you might also look at your checking account and see where the money goes. Whether you put it together on paper, a whiteboard, in a spreadsheet or use sophisticated personal finance software, getting a clear picture of your own cash flow is a good jumping off point for formulating effective saving strategies.
- Stick to a Budget. Once you're aware of your spending habits, create a budget. First, list all of your fixed expenses, such as bills and loan payments. Then, list all of your variable expenses, such as groceries, clothing and entertainment. Just like tracking your spending, your actual budget "document" can be as simple or as detailed as you like because the goal is to find a tool that works for you. As long as you have a clear indication of what you are able to spend after saving each month, your particular approach to budgeting will form a solid foundation for money saving strategies you can actually execute. Also consider including in your budget an amount to save for future purchases. Keeping an eye on your longer-term goals nicely dovetails with your effort to manage your day-to-day budget.
- Open an Online Savings Account. Online savings accounts like the ones we offer at Ally Bank provide you with the same features that regular bank accounts do, but with our Online Savings Account, for example, you typically earn interest at a higher rate than with a savings account at a brick-and-mortar bank based on rates published by Bankrate.com. True, traditional banks offer ways to manage your account online as well, but in addition to earning a competitive rate of interest, banking with Ally Bank is a "best-of-both-worlds" approach. You get online convenience plus live customer care via email, chat and phone anytime, 24/7.
- Start a Retirement Plan. If your company offers a 401(k) plan or another type of employer-sponsored retirement plan, it is probably a good idea to participate. These plans typically deduct money from your paycheck before taxes, and often a company will match this amount. That money is put away until you retire. If you don't have that option, check into money saving strategies such as Ally Bank IRAs.
Ally Bank has the tools to help you reach your financial goals, from our Ally Interest Checking Account and the Online Savings Account to a full line of CDs and more. Learn more at Allybank.com or call live, 24/7 customer care at 877-247-ALLY (2559) today.