In this unprecedented era, it’s critical to be prepared. Many of us are worried about the impact that social and economic instability could have on our money. Instead of panicking, it’s important to focus on things we can control--such as building an emergency savings fund.
Some underestimate the importance of having a savings account, but the absence of one can lead to severe financial setback. Without a financial cushion, many are left with no choice but to charge everything to their credit cards just to cover daily expenses during emergencies, which can ultimately lead to debt and bankruptcy.
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, building a financial safety net may seem next to impossible, but don’t be discouraged. It’s OK to start small and increase your savings over time.
Here are some tips to help you build your savings fund:
• Create a budget: Look through your last three months of bank statements and categorize each expense in writing. This is the first step in creating a realistic budget. Creating an unrealistic budget can overwhelm you and will defeat the purpose.
• Cut back on spending: After analyzing your spending history for the past few months, you should be able to pick up on specific spending patterns. Are you spending too much on coffee? Are you eating out too much? Are you shopping for items that you don't really need? The key is to cut back in areas where it seems probable. Someone can easily tell you that you're paying too much on rent, but how realistic is it to find a new home? Some of the most common expenses you can reduce immediately are cell phone bills, Internet/cable bills, shopping and food costs.
The Police Credit Union Mobile Banking app allows you to set up alerts to keep your spending top of mind. If your account dips below a certain balance, or you conduct a transaction over a certain dollar amount, you can receive phone or email alerts to keep you in check. Click here for more information on Mobile Banking and Account Alerts from The Police Credit Union.
- Contribute what you can monthly: It's hard to say exactly how much of your monthly income should go towards savings since everyone has a different lifestyle, but usually over half of your income should go towards fixed costs and needs while the other half should go towards your wants and savings.
- Automate your savings: Lighten your mental load by setting up small, automatic online transfers to a savings account. Automating the savings process removes the need for you to manually add money to your savings each month, and reduces your chances for overspending. You can increase the amount of your transfers over time as your financial situation changes.
You might find it difficult to create a household budget that leaves room for saving at first, but with time, the process of saving each month will become easier.
The Police Credit Union provides many innovative and easy-to-use Online Banking tools that can make contributing to a savings account a simple and convenient process. For an overview of Online Banking and our easy-to-use Mobile App, click here.