If the thought of saving up a large chunk of change for a rainy day is overwhelming, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a recent survey from Bankrate, 25% of Americans don’t have any emergency savings. It can be intimidating to start saving when you’re on a budget, but small steps do add up. Making saving a habit comes down to consistent efforts, no matter how small. So what can you do to make saving a bigger priority in the year ahead? Here are four simple tips.
1. Make it automatic
When it comes down to saving, it can be tempting to bypass your best laid budgeting plans to buy something else when payday arrives. But when you create automatic deductions from your checking into a savings account, you don’t get to make that decision. This can ultimately be freeing: Instead of having to “fit” saving into your budget each paycheck, the decision is already made for you. This act of paying yourself first can be an incredibly empowering way to start saving, even if it’s $5 or $10 at a time.
2. Pay attention to cash back rewards
Many credit cards (and some debit cards!) offer cash back rewards; this is when you get a portion of money back when you spend at select stores. When you accrue a certain amount of cash back, you can credit it back to your account or transfer it to a savings account. This is an easy way to start growing a small savings fund just by spending money on everyday purchases.
3. Take advantage of company benefits
Does your employer offer a 401(k) program? If they offer to match contributions, even stashing away a small amount each paycheck can add up. Some companies also offer HSAs or health savings accounts. This is a great way to set aside money for medical expenses, which can overwhelm your budget if they’re unexpected. If your company doesn’t currently offer programs like these, speak up. Asking your company to consider offering some kind of financial wellness benefit is not unheard of, and it should be top of mind for your employer in 2022.
4. Make it a game
Is there a category you frequently overspend on? (Hey, we’re not judging—it happens to the best of us!) If you tend to overindulge on certain categories or items, create a rule: Anytime you spend on that category—let’s say dining out—you have to put $10 in your savings account. The goal is not to discourage you from spending money on things you truly enjoy, but to balance that spending by remembering the importance of saving, too.
Saving shouldn’t have to be painful. As you look to 2022, incorporating even one of these strategies can help you stash away a bit more cash, whether it’s to save for a long-term goal or build up a rainy day fund in case of emergencies. Having that extra cushion can help you feel more financially secure and less stressed in the year ahead.