“I don’t have the money” is a common phrase we hear or say when there’s an option to purchase something that doesn’t necessarily align with our financial goals or budget. But is it because we are actually broke or are we trying to save for something? How do we balance our saving versus spending ratio? Knowing how much to save each month can help alleviate some of the stress that comes with financial situations and decisions. Using an app to track your spending and savings habits is an important step to ensure you are holding yourself accountable.
Calculating How Much to Save Each Month
Morningstar writer Holly Black advocates the 50-30-20 rule. This principle splits your monthly income in three ways.
- Half is set aside for necessary living expenses like rent or mortgage, food, heating, phone, credit card or loan payments, and transportation.
- 30% is earmarked for frills like new clothing, entertainment, gifts, dining, or vacations.
- 20% is set aside for savings. You might set up savings accounts or invest this money in stocks, bonds, or an RRSP (registered retirement savings plan).
Advantages of the 50-30-20 Rule
If you allocate earnings this way, it is easier to manage your finances. You know exactly how much you have budgeted for expenses and savings for each paycheck.
Furthermore, you can automatically increase your savings as your income rises and/or as expenses in those other areas decrease.
Experian reported that seventy-five percent of Americans have a credit card balance that is carried over at the end of each month. The average balance is over $5,000.
Making a commitment to saving is the first step.
- Create a budget and stick to it.
- Don’t “window shop” whether at a brick-and-mortar store or online.
- Delay buying. If you fall in love with something, wait a week. By then, you may well have come to your senses.
- If you have outstanding debt, avoid buying something unless it is a necessary purchase.
- Make a shopping list to help you remember what to buy and stick to only things you need to help prevent impulse purchases.
- If it isn’t part of your budget, you can’t afford it.
Making a commitment to saving is important, but make sure you have a way of tracking your spending as well. There are several apps that help keep your budget on track, like Marygold & Co’s.
When shopping, it’s easy to get a little carried away and spend more than expected. These strategies can also help increase your savings while at the grocery store:
- Look for generic labels.
- Build your weekly menu around flyer specials.
- Don’t shop for groceries when you are hungry.
- Clip coupons or use a grocery saving app like foodflash or Flipp. Look into cashback options like BeFrugal.com.
- Plan and shop for food once a week or twice a month.
- Pack lunches instead of eating out. You’ll save money and eat healthier.
- Avoid eating out regularly. Make it a special treat.
- Try get-togethers with friends instead of eating out. Make it a potluck so it is less work for everyone.
The amount you designate for saving each month may be altered by various considerations:
- What you are saving for and how much it will cost.
- How soon you will need the money for an item.
- How much you can afford to save.
- Unexpected expenses.
- Your debt load: While saving is important, you cannot overlook debts like student loans or unpaid credit card amounts. If unpaid, these debts can cost you more in interest. Always know the interest rate you are being charged on outstanding debt. Interest rates on unpaid loans are significantly higher than the interest you would earn on a savings account.
Are Americans Saving?
The Atlantic explored this question.
They discovered that during the Reagan administration, ninety percent of Americans saved an average of 10% of their income. By 2006, their savings rate was negative 10%.
The current reasons given for the lack of saving include:
- Job losses and earnings decline due to economic stressors like COVID-19.
- The “I want to enjoy trips, bigger homes, luxury items now and save later mentality”.
- Unexpected emergencies including medical expenses, broken appliances, vehicle repairs, home repairs, etc.
- Going into debt to purchase a home.
- A shift from publicly funded to private schools for children.
- Employee retirement programs make it easy for people to ignore the necessity of retirement savings.
How Much Does the Average American Save?
Personal finance writer, Marie Backman, discovered that over seventy percent of Americans have a savings account. However, just over twenty percent of them have an account balance between one and five thousand dollars.
A 2018 Federal Reserve report found that over sixty percent of Americans do not have an emergency fund. That means If an emergency occurred of $400, sixty percent of Americans would have to rob their other accounts, put the amount on credit cards, or borrow funds to cover the expense.
A November 2020 Bankrate.com report records that the average personal debt is almost $95,000. These include mortgages, car loans, student loans, and unpaid credit card balances.
Many Americans only have a single savings account. If you are saving for one specific goal, then one savings account will suffice. You might be setting savings aside for future acquisitions like a home or a new car. You might be saving for a vacation.
If you have multiple goals, you might wish to set up separate accounts for each of these savings goals. These goals might include:
- Emergency Savings Account
Financial advisors recommend setting up a “rainy day” account. Everyone experiences sad and unexpected events. Perhaps your car breaks down. Maybe your job vanishes in a company downsizing. A work injury or a car accident may result in you temporarily being off work and saddled with medical expenses that are not covered by your insurance. Your first savings goal needs to be to put enough cash in your emergency savings account to cover your necessary expenses for at least three months.
A good choice for your emergency savings is a money market account. It can be a solution when you suddenly need money. Until then, they earn an attractive amount of interest.
- Retirement Savings
The time to begin creating a retirement savings account is when you begin earning money. Financial experts estimate that a single household needs $45,000 a year or $61,000 for a couple to retire comfortably.
If your budget allows you to put just a few dollars a month into a high-yield long-term investment, you will be much farther ahead than 65% of Americans who fail to save sufficiently for their golden years. Writer John Maudlin warns against failure to save for retirement.
- Special Savings Accounts
If you are saving for a new house, your daughter’s college education, or maybe an anniversary cruise, you might wish to look into setting up a money market account. These accounts pay moderate interest. Withdrawals and transfers from this account are limited. Money market accounts typically have no minimum balance. Interest accrued increases with an increased balance.
You may decide to open separate savings accounts for specific purposes like the kids’ education, a summer home, a new car, or a much-needed vacation.
If you choose accounts with better interest and less liquidity, there will be less temptation to borrow from one or more of these accounts.
What are Money Pool Savings Accounts?
Marygold & Co. has created an app that helps customers establish individual savings goals to save for life’s important milestones. Money Pools are customized and directly aligned with the timelines you create for your savings goals.
How Do Money Pools Work?
Marygold & Co.’s Money Pool savings and financial services app provides customers with a means of separating and organizing their earnings. By using their Money Pool app, Marygold & Co. can help you more effectively reach short-term and long-term savings goals.