By Pam Reiss
As previously discussed in Part 1, a recent Gallup poll indicates that a majority of Americans today claim that they prefer saving over spending. However, the facts also suggest that a majority of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts. Even more alarming, a majority of people never get out of debt in their lifetimes.
If you want to enjoy the many benefits of financial freedom in your lifetime, it is important to make a distinction between the desire to save, and actually executing a successful saving strategy. In this series, we will be providing helpful hints and steps that you can take to ensure that your desire to save can be turned into a solid financial plan that will maximize your wealth and your family’s quality of life for the long haul.
In Part 2, we will provide some basic first steps that you should take as you seek to employ a successful saving strategy. These important steps will help you make an accurate self-assessment about where you are along your path to financial freedom, as well as pinpoint simple ways that you can increase your savings right away.
Calculate your net worth: The balance in your savings account doesn’t tell the entire story. In order to get the most accurate idea about whether your saving strategy is working, you should be focused more on net worth. Net worth is calculated by subtracting your expenses (mortgages, loans, bills, credit card balances, etc.) from your assets (equity built in your home, your car, cash, stocks, prized possessions, or any other items of value).
Why is this important? It doesn’t matter how much stuff you’ve got if you’re paying for it all with money you don’t have. Someone with a $500,000 house and a 2017 Jeep Patriot may in fact have a lower net worth than someone with a $75,000 condo and a 1997 Honda Accord. Calculating your net worth will provide you the most honest and accurate report of your true saving prowess.
Set saving benchmarks: Of course, all savings strategies are relative and must be tailored to meet your specific needs. For instance, a single individual will have a much different need than a family with four children. Ask yourself: Where do you see yourself in a year, five years, ten years, and beyond? Determining what you want to do in life will help you figure out what you need to save to reach your goal.
Create a budget: Now that you have a better sense of your current standing, as well as where you’d like to go, you can focus in on setting aside the money you’ll need to reach your goal. That might require making adjustments in other areas of your life, so it is critical that you make a budget for yourself. The first items in your ledger should be the necessary expenses you’ve got to pay each month, like bills and groceries. From there, include the necessary funds for your savings account that you’ve determined will help you reach your long-term financial goals. Prioritize your savings, otherwise you may realize you’ve frivolously spent too much at the end of the month.
Of course, for more useful information on crafting a successful saving strategy, stop by any office of The Milford Bank near you, check out our Online Learning Center, or keep checking back on our blog for the next parts of this series.