We've been staggered by the reader response to our SaveUp! campaign. So far, we have all pledged to save $246,656—and about 2,200 Euros—and the pledges are still rolling in! To aid you on your journey, answers to four common saving questions:
I'm still in debt—how can I save money?
You can't get out of debt unless you save. You need a small cash stash to cover out-of-the-blue expenses, so that you can leave Mr. Visa alone. Make aggressive debt payments, to the best of your ability, and use the curveball fund to prevent any further debt build-up.
I have a savings account, but I'm always spending the money. Help!
- Make sure your savings account is NOT linked to your checking OR to your debit card. Eliminate those impulse withdrawals.
- If that isn't possible where you bank now, open a separate savings account that has limited access. Hint: Try an online bank like Smartypig.com, INGdirect.com, Emigrant.com.
I'm just not a natural saver. How do I start?
Saving isn't a skill, it's a habit. Don't worry about the amount at first, rehearse saving regularly.
- Save all your $5 bills at the end of each day—or empty the change from your purse. (Amazing what you'll save in a month.)
- Pretend your savings account is a bill and mail in a "payment" every month.
- Start a savings kitty with a friend of, say, $20 each per week. One month she gets the stash, the next month you do.
How can I save when money is so tight right now?
Once you start saving, even tiny bits, a strange thing will happen: You will begin spending less. If you're about to swear that you can't possibly live on less, start saving. You'll see.