7 Ways to Turn Saving Money into a Habit

By Brittany Lyte, Wise Bread

The spending and saving habits of your past don’t define your future — your current ones do. And this America Saves Week is a great time to start with a clean slate. Hitting the reset button won’t cure all your financial woes, but when it comes to adopting good saving habits it’s truly half the battle. The other half, of course, is drafting a well-planned road map for success. Luckily, we’ve got a primer to get you started. Read on for our guide to adopting seven money-saving habits that stick.

1. Set a Goal
How much money would you like to save? And for what?

When you pinpoint a clear savings goal — be it a new car, a down payment on mortgage, or a backyard swimming pool — it becomes a whole lot easier to conjure up the self-restraint required to achieve it. It needn’t be a big ticket item, either. Simply having a goal to visualize, like a college savings account for your children or a fund for spontaneous weekend escapes, will help keep you focused, motivated, and disciplined.

2. Map Out a Timeline
Once you’ve figured out what you’re saving for and how much money you’ll need, it’s time to figure out how long it will take to reach your goal. If you want to save $4,000 for a trip to France, for example, figure out how much money you’re willing and reasonably able to part with each paycheck and then calculate how many paychecks it will take you to get there. This savings plan is the roadmap that will help steer you to the day when you’ve finally saved enough money to book those airline tickets.

3. Set Benchmarks
The act of consciously putting away a set amount of money on a set schedule will help build the muscle memory you need to turn saving money into a habit. And since this is the key to adopting a new behavior that will serve you long after you’ve reached this particular savings goal, it’s important to stay on track. Break down your timeline into weekly, monthly, and quarterly savings targets and be sure to verify that you’re meeting them every time.

When you take a large goal and compartmentalize it into a series of smaller ones, it becomes a whole lot easier to accomplish.

4. Start Small
If you’re struggling to make ends meet and the idea of feeding your family, filling up the gas tank, and paying the bills while also contributing to your savings account seems impossibly daunting, remember that no amount you invest in your savings is insignificant. Even $1 a day makes a difference. The key is identifying the largest amount of money you can commit to stowing away on a regular basis without thwarting your ability to make good on all your other financial obligations. Don’t shortchange yourself, but beware of setting a goal that’s overzealous. The process of meeting your goal should be a challenge, but it shouldn’t be impossible.

5. Reward Yourself
Reward yourself when you reach major savings milestones to help keep up the momentum. For example, after a month of successfully meeting your weekly savings benchmark, treat yourself to a meal at your favorite restaurant or grant yourself the license to splurge (a little!) on your next shopping trip. Remember, your reward needn’t require you to spend any money, and it certainly shouldn’t bump you off track. A relaxing home pedicure, a guilt-free movie marathon, or a sunset stroll through the park does the trick just as well as anything you can buy.

6. Don’t Let Yourself Slip
Likewise, it’s important to implement consequences in the event that you fall short on one of your savings benchmarks. If you come up 20% shy of your quarterly benchmark, hold yourself accountable. Spend a night in that you otherwise would have spent out on the town. Calculate how much money you saved by forgoing an evening of food and entertainment and funnel that amount straight into your savings account. Then break out your savings timetable and devise a new plan to help get yourself back on track.

7. Snuff Out Your Bad Habits
If you’re still struggling to stick to your plan, see if you can identify any wasteful spending habits so you can nix them. Keeping track of every outgoing dollar over a two-week period can reveal unhealthy spending habits you never knew you had. Online budget planners offer easy tools to score and analyze your every dollar, but old-fashioned pen and paper works just fine.

What will you do during America Saves Week to kick off your new savings habit?

Brittany Lyte is a columnist for Wise Bread (+WiseBread) — top personal finance blog and winner of PC Magazine’s Top 100 Website Award.

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5 Simple Steps to Save Successfully this America Saves Week

By Tammy Greynolds, America Saves Communications Coordinator

America Saves Week (February 23 – 28, 2015) is an annual opportunity for individuals to assess their savings and take financial action. America Saves’ mantra – and the focus for America Saves Week – is simple: Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically. When you know what your current financial picture looks like, you can be more proactive in setting yourself up for future success.

Try these five simple steps during America Saves Week to help yourself save successfully:

1. Assess Your Savings.
Like your health, you should assess your savings annually to make sure you’re savings priorities are on the right track. Complete this simple 12 question assessment to find out your current standing and help you plan for the future.

2. Evaluate your Savings Preparedness.
Check off your savings accomplishments on the Saver Checklist to further evaluate where your savings habits need strengthening for your future goals.

3. Take the America Saves Pledge.
Those with a savings plan are two times as likely to save for emergencies and retirement than those without one. Join the nearly 400,000 American Savers who have already committed to save. When you make the pledge, you can choose to receive text message tips and reminders to help you save towards your goals.

4. Share Your Savings Goal.
Take part in the 2015 #imsavingfor Photo Contest. Share a selfie that shows what you’re saving for on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and enter the contest at http://americasavesweek.org/imsavingfor for a chance to win $500. Savings never looked so good.

5. Make Your Savings Social.
Are you on Twitter or Facebook? Join America Saves in encouraging your friends, family, and colleagues to save this week. Better yet, join one of the five – yes, five! – Twitter chats that America Saves will be a part of this week to get real-time savings tips and advice.

America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

This America Saves Week: Take Your Financial Future into Your Own Hands

By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Director

America Saves Week, February 23 – 28, 2015, is the perfect time to review your finances, set your savings goals for the year, and set up a system that will allow you to save automatically. That’s why the America Saves Week theme is – Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically.

Did you know that only half of Americans report having good savings habits? Even if you are already saving, it’s good to take a look at your greater financial picture and decide whether there’s potential to save more or set a new savings goal. Join thousands of others who are pledging to pay down debt, save money, and take financial action during America Saves Week.

Not sure what to save for or what to save for next? Here are the most popular saving goals of those who have pledged to save through America Saves:

• Save for Emergencies – Research has shown that low-income families with at least $500 in an emergency fund are better off financially than moderate-income families with less than this amount. Nearly a quarter of savers who have taken the America Saves pledge have chosen “emergency savings” as their first wealth-building goal. Learn more.

• Save for Retirement – Retirement savings is a top priority for many savers. Saving for retirement now will ensure that you have enough money to maintain a comfortable standard of living when you stop or reduce the amount of hours you work. Learn more.

• Save for Education – Saving for education is the second most popular goal savers select when they pledge to save with America Saves. There are many different things to factor in when saving and paying for college. Learn more.

• Pay Down Debt – Getting out of debt is the #3 goal savers select when they pledge to save. The good news is that there is hope. With planning, discipline, patience, and maybe some outside help, almost anyone can reduce their debts and start to accumulate wealth. Learn more.

• Save for a Home – For decades, home ownership has been the main path to wealth for most Americans. Today, home equity – the market value of a home minus the balance on any home loans – represents more than four-fifths of the typical family’s wealth. Learn more.

Not sure how to save for your goals? Here are some saving strategies to help:

• Save Automatically – The easiest and most effective way to save is automatically. This is how millions of Americans save at their bank or credit union, and how millions of employees save through 401(k) and other retirement programs at work. Learn more.

• Save at Tax Time – Do you spend weeks eagerly anticipating your tax refund? When the money finally comes in, is it gone tomorrow? Many people view tax refunds as unplanned bonuses. They see the money as a gift from the government, to use for splurges or treats. But a tax refund provides the opportunity to improve your financial situation. Learn more.

Take the America Saves Pledge, or re-pledge, today to set your savings goal and make a plan to save. When you take the Pledge, you can also choose to receive text message tips and reminders to help you save for your goal. And don’t forget to follow America Saves on Facebook and Twitter.

America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

Workshop at the Village Residence Hall

The RAs at the Village wanted us to come talk to their residents about money management.  The presentation was at night so that it would not conflict with classes.  In addition, there were free sandwiches for attendees and a chance to win a movie giftcard.  Thanks to the Village RAs for providing awesome incentives for students to come!

We covered three main topics in this workshop- budgeting, credit, and student loans.  We also handed out some free pens and some booklets with hundreds of ways to save!

If you’re an RA or part of an RHA and you would like us to do a workshop in your residence hall, please give us a call at 402-472-9093 or send us an email at smmc@unl.edu

Current Promotion: Until the end of February, we are offering free waterbottles to students who come in to the office and grab a brochure or schedule an appointment.  Come see us in room 237 of the City Union! We will have another awesome promotion in March, so stay tuned. (Hint: It has something to do with Plinko!)

Ways to Save Money

Could you use some extra cash these days? Are you saving your money but you still feel like you’re always short on cash? Here are some various ways you may be able to put a few more George Washingtons into your pocket.

If you are taking a trip soon, booking flights where you will stay over a Saturday evening, and purchasing a plane ticket in advance can help save you money. When it comes to renting car on your trip, make sure you shop around to try and find the best option.

Speaking of cars, there are a variety of things you can do to save money when it comes to purchasing, repairing, or operating your car. When it comes to purchasing a new car, make sure you compare prices at different dealers for the model you want. Also make sure you don’t sign a contract until you are sure that you want to buy the car. For used cars, make sure you compare the price with the average price on “bluebook” or another price guide. Gas is something that always seems to take a large chunk out of our wallets. So how can you save some extra cash at the pump? Fill up your car with the lowest octane your car will run on and make sure you keep your engine tuned and tires inflated to their proper amounts. For car repair, make sure you go to a certified and trusted mechanic who clearly communicates your options and their costs to you.

When it comes to your banking and credit, you can save on checking fees by having paychecks directly deposited into your checking account. To help increase your savings, place your money in CDs, treasury bills, or notes. These savings methods are low risk, and though they may tie up your money for a little while, they have better interest rates than straight savings accounts. For your credit, always make sure you pay off your entire credit card bill each month. If you can’t pay for something at the time you want to buy it, don’t buy it! Sometimes you have to, but try to avoid spending more than you have. You can also reduce card fees by cutting yourself back to only having one or two cards.

You can save money on living expenses too! If you’re paying rent, try to find a place where you and a roommate(s) can live. This will keep your living expenses lower by splitting them amongst more people. For utilities, make sure you turn off lights and appliances when not being used, and when you travel, turn the heat down in the winter and the A/C down in the summer.

These changes may not result in astronomical savings, but if you really focus on doing them you are sure to see a few more dollars in your wallet each month.

Article by Erik Witt, SMMC Volunteer

Backpacks & Briefcases

Scarlet Guard and the Nebraska Alumni Association hosted the event “Backpacks & Briefcases” a couple weeks ago.  At this event, undergraduate and graduate students had the opportunity to go to break out sessions, panels, have professional headshots taken, and get their resumes reviewed.  There were two tracks for this event- Backpacks, which was geared toward underclassmen, and Briefcases, which was for upperclassmen.

For our Backpacks presentation we did an overview of many money management topics.  We first discussed budgeting and how important it is to stay on track and prevent overspending.  Then we talked about credit, including what credit scores and credit reports are all about and what to look for when choosing a credit card.  Next, we talked about student loans and how to reduce the amount you need to borrow and what to do with a refund check.  Lastly, we discussed the importance of creating financial goals and how to prevent identity theft.  We had a great group with great questions!

In our Briefcases presentation we also touched a little bit on budgeting and credit but also focused on planning for retirement.  We talked about when to start saving for retirement, what investment options are available, and types of risk and how to manage risk.  We really enjoyed presenting to this attentive group of students.

We also had the opportunity to attend a networking reception before the presentations with Scarlet Guard and Legends members.  We had a lot of fun meeting students and hearing about their career goals.  If you have an event you would like us to present at, just give us a call at 402-472-9093!

Education Abroad Fair

Each semester the Education Abroad department organizes an education abroad fair for students.  This is an opportunity for students to learn about UNL departments’ programs in other countries, countries they can study abroad in, and also the costs of study abroad.  We were invited to staff at booth at the Education Abroad Fair last Tuesday to help students learn about how they can make a plan to save and budget for their study abroad experience, and also how to save money while studying abroad.  We had our Study Abroad Checklist with money saving tips and our Study Abroad Budget sheet available for students.  If you’d like one of these handouts, please stop by room 237 in the City Union to pick one up!  Don’t forget, if you need help planning for study abroad expenses, you can always make an appointment with us at https://unlsmmc.youcanbook.me/

We personally feel that each student should have the opportunity to study abroad if they want to.  For most students, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to study and live abroad.  Let us help you figure out how to pay for it.  Here’s the Education Abroad Office’s website: http://educationabroad.unl.edu/  Check out the “Financial” tab at the top for information on financial aid and scholarships for study abroad programs.

If your department is putting on an event or an information fair, think about if money is related to the topic in any way.  If it is, we can definitely create some custom handouts for your students.  Just contact us at (402) 472-9093 or smmc@unl.edu for more information!