Having a savings cushion to fall back on in case you’re made redundant or your boiler breaks down is important, but managing to put money aside each month can be a challenge, to say the least.
So here are five steps to help you get into the savings habit.
1. Draw up a budget
A good place to start is with a list of your earnings and outgoings. This will help you to see what you are spending, and show you how much – if anything – you have left once all your bills and other payments have gone out.
It should also help you to assess whether you can make any cutbacks. You might, for example, decide to ditch your gym membership or reduce the amount you spend on your weekly food shop by buying fewer branded products.
2. Shop around and switch
Similarly, why not see if you could pay less for your gas and electricity by switching to a cheaper energy tariff.
3. Set a monthly target
Once you’ve done that, it should be easier to assess whether – and how much – you can afford to pay in to a savings account each month.
Make sure your target is realistic. There’s no point overstretching yourself or deciding you’ll sacrifice your annual holiday just to meet your target, as you’ll only end up resenting saving or give up all together.
4. Find an account that suits you
Once you’ve set your target, you’ll need to find the right home for your savings.
If you want to be more disciplined with your saving, a good option is a regular saver account as this type of account requires you to pay in a set monthly amount for 12 months and you’ll have to leave your funds untouched during that time.
Be warned though that once you’ve decided how much you’re going to pay in each month you usually can’t change it, so choose carefully and be realistic.
It’s also a good idea to put some money in an easy access account as this type of account allows you to get your hands on your cash whenever you need it which could prove vital in an emergency.
You can also pay funds in to an easy access account as and when you want to.
Just keep in mind that some easy access accounts will limit the number of withdrawals you can make in a year.
And some accounts also have a bonus rate attached which usually expires after 12 months, meaning the interest rate on your account will drop and you’ll need to switch to a better paying account.
An easy way to remember to do this is to make a note of when the bonus expires in your diary or on your phone.
Cash ISAs are also a good choice as you won’t have to pay tax on the interest you earn – you can get both easy access and regular saver ISAs.
However, it’s worth noting that from April 6, 2016, all basic rate taxpayers will be able to earn £1,000 of savings interest (in any savings account) without paying tax on it.
If you’re a higher rate tax payer, you’ll be able to earn £500 in savings interest before you are taxed. Read more about this here.
5. Set up a monthly direct debit
Once you’ve opened your savings account, an easy way to ensure you pay in to it each month is to set up a monthly direct debit from your current account.
It’s a good idea to do this just after you’ve been paid so the money goes out straightaway and you are not tempted to spend it on something else.
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