How to build savings if you’re living paycheck to paycheck

For folks living paycheck to paycheck, setting aside money for the future can seem out of reach. After all, it can be intimidating to think you have to save a huge chunk of each paycheck for the distant future if you have more immediate needs like paying bills and buying groceries to worry about. The good news is you can start small, be consistent, and see major results. 

Here are some tips to help you build up your savings on a budget. 

Break down your big goal into REALISTIC smaller goals

You may be surprised that one of the obstacles to saving is trying to save too much. Many goals are never reached because the savings goal may be too large. It's easy to get overwhelmed and give up before you start.

This happens a lot with New Year's resolutions—with only about 16% of people able to complete their resolution. Why are so many goals never completed? The goal is too big.

But there’s a simple solution: set realistic goals that you can attain each month. 

Determine a contribution that you’re comfortable with—try something small like $5 a week. See how that amount works with your budget, then adjust from there. Once you feel ready, you can raise the amount as you see fit.

Setting money aside for savings can feel daunting. Especially when you need the money each month to cover rent, living expenses, and pay off debt. Rather than trying to tackle one big goal—It's much easier to break it down into smaller bite-sized goals that can be completed weekly or monthly.

Expect the unexpected

It may be helpful to think of your savings as serving two functions: long-term (things like retirement—yay!) or short-term (unexpected expenses). Having an extra cushion for emergencies is an essential part of your overall financial wellness, yet 48% of hourly workers have no money saved for an emergency. Establishing that extra safety net can help you out during unforeseen circumstances. 

These are some of the most common emergency expenses:

  • Car repairs, maintenance, or an accident
  • Unexpected medical emergencies or other medical expenses, like prescription drugs
  • Losing your job

While there are different recommendations for how much to have in an emergency fund, every little bit helps. 

Create your personalized saving goals

Remember, no amount is too small. Every cent you save adds up over time—eventually, you’ll reach your goal. Here’s your guide to getting started:

  • Start by reviewing your spending habits each week.
  • Build a budget—use the free CashFlow tool in your Branch app to manage your spending and identify areas you might be able to pinch pennies.
  • Determine what you need and what isn't essential.
  • Now you’re ready to contribute to your savings goals, both long and short-term!

After a few weeks of budgeting and monitoring your spending, you’ll eventually become a savings expert. It will become a rewarding experience and give you a sense of pride when you’ve saved a little extra money.

3 extra tips to help you attain your savings goals

Accomplishing your goals each week requires dedication, patience, and perseverance. Reaching your savings goals can be fun and fulfilling. Stay consistent and see your savings grow over time.

Turn saving into a game

Think of reaching your savings goal as unlocking an achievement. Each time you reach your goal, try to beat it—and take your saving game to the next level. 

Balance short-term fun with long-term security

Saving doesn’t mean eliminating everything but the essentials—you still want to live your life and spend responsibly for special occasions. Try to find a balance between the occasional indulgence in things that matter to you and cutting back on extras where you can.

Get rewarded on everyday purchases

Find Branch Rewards near you or online and see where you can save money—and contribute towards your savings.

This blog post is intended for general information purposes only and should not be considered legal or financial advice.

Continue reading