It pays to save: Small changes can add up to big savings

By Maria Perez

You've paid all your bills this month – and you still have extra money. What do you do? Buy that pair of boots you've been eyeing? Splurge on a dinner with friends? What if you decided to save that extra money?

You'd be surprised how quickly saving a little each month adds up – and that all it takes is a few small adjustments to your current financial behavior to do it.

Here are some ways you can develop better saving habits:

  1. Make a budget
    Whether it's weekly or monthly, a budget will give you a better idea of what you can afford to put into a savings account
  2. Open a savings account
    If you're saving for a specific goal like a vacation or new car, go to your financial institution and open up a new savings account just for that

  3. Reward yourself
    Most credit cards offer some type of reward benefit for making purchases with their card, whether it's points or cash back

  4. Clip coupons
    Don't just recycle those grocery flyers – take a look inside to see what is on sale. Sometimes you can find great deals on items that you buy regularly

  5. Be flexible
    Save money on taxes by enrolling in your company's Flexible Spending Account. You contribute through a pretax payroll deduction and then file a claim to be reimbursed for eligible expenses relating to medical care, dependent care, parking and transit

  6. Invest
    Participate in your company's 401(k) plan. (Some companies even offer an employer match if you contribute to your plan!) Similar to a Flexible Spending Account, your contributions are deducted from your payroll prior to taxes so you also save money that way

Get organized, get saving

If you're having a hard time tracking spending, here are some easy ways to help you get organized and start saving.

  • Set up your computer and smartphone
    Use an Excel spreadsheet or try a free online or mobile tool to set up a budget and track your bills. Most online tools also have mobile apps so you can track your expenses anytime, anywhere
  • Use one credit/debit card for all purchases
    When you use one card for everything, you can easily track your purchases in one convenient place
  • Create account alerts
    Most accounts can be set to alert you when you get close to a certain balance
  • Get a calendar
    Use your online banking or receipts to tally your expenses daily, weekly and monthly. Then write the totals on the calendar – you'll begin to see patterns in your spending, which will help you budget

This article is based on information available in January 2018. It is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific financial, investment, tax, legal, accounting, or other advice and should not be acted or relied upon without the advice of a professional advisor. A professional advisor will recommend action based on your personal circumstances and the most recent information available.