Become a Saver

 

ThinkstockPhotos-503154329You can start small, really small, but be consistent. You’ll be encouraged by how quickly your weekly or monthly contributions add up. Challenge yourself to increase the amount. Pay yourself a bonus.

Saving that is automatic is a far more successful method than you hoping to have some money left over at the end of every month. You’ll soon forget that it’s even being deducted. Paying yourself first is a prudent layaway plan for your future.

Every financial expert seems to recommend saving at least 10 percent of your yearly gross income toward your goal. That’s nice but for some people who are just beginning to save, 10 percent is considerably more than they can afford so they get discouraged and don’t save anything. People do need some individual help to get started.

If you’ve never saved a dime and we encourage you to save 10 percent of your pay today, we’ve essentially thrown you into a pot of boiling water and you’ll abandon the plan in an instant. Any chance for saving and investing is gone. But if you begin at 1 or 2 percent and we encourage you to raise that to 3 percent, and so forth until, by small degrees as you are comfortable, you get to saving 6 to 10 percent of your pay, you’ll have a better chance of staying with the program.

Initially, the dollar amount involved isn’t nearly as important as the fact that you have made a commitment to the “pay yourself first” philosophy. It’s all about prioritizing your life so that a financially secure future is your top financial goal.

By dedicating a percentage of your income toward saving for the future, you have made a conscious decision that your future is important. You have made a commitment that an investment in yourself comes before your membership at the health club or a night on the town. You have made a decision that saving for your retirement is more important than spending money on recreation today.

When your financial situation improves and circumstances permit, gradually increase the amount of money earmarked for your 401(k) plan and your savings will hit that 10 percent mark more quickly than you might think. Once you get to 10 percent, there’s no reason to stop there. If you can afford to increase your contribution percentage beyond 10 percent, you may be able to retire early. If ou choose to keep working to full retirement age, your 401(k) balance will be that much better off for every extra dollar that you saved. Rest assured that when you’re relaxing on the beach somewhere 20 years from now, you won’t be complaining that you have too much money in your 401(k) plan.

 

Going from a Saver to an Investor. (2004). The First Time Investor. (3rd ed., pp. 10-11). McGraw-Hill