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:

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

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