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When I was unemployed, saving money felt impossible. I wanted it to be a priority, but we were struggling just to pay our bills.
Now that I’m working full-time again, I’ve been focusing a lot on getting our finances – and our savings – back on track.
Here’s how I’m saving money in 2017:
When we were living paycheck to paycheck we wanted to save money, but there was never anything left over to save.
Now that we can afford to, we are putting saving first and instead using whatever is left over to spend.
Paying yourself first is a much better approach to saving. Each month, you know that your savings account is growing, even if only a little bit at a time.
After all, your future is just as important as your other financial obligations.
I am fortunate to have a job that comes with a pension. Automatically, my employer deducts a portion of my income from my paycheck before the money even hits my bank account.
On the same note, when I started working full-time again I set up automatic contributions to my tax-free saving account. Each pay-day, $25 is automatically sent to this account. It’s a small enough amount that I don’t miss it but is enough to start rebuilding my savings.
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Having money put away in a savings account will help reduce any financial stress you may have. You always have access to your money in case of an emergency.
Save on Interest
During my unemployment, we relied heavily on our credit cards.
At first, it wasn’t so bad, as we’d redeem the reward points for cash each month. But I knew I was getting into financial trouble when I began carrying a balance on my credit card. As our balance grew, the interest charges quickly outweighed the reward value. We realized that something had to change.
So I gave up on collecting reward points and instead opted for a card with a lower interest rate.
But the lowest interest rates available on credit cards are still quite high. Mine is more than double the rate I pay on my other debts.
Because of the high interest rate, it feels like each payment made barely puts a dent in the principle amount still owing.
There are other ways to help you save on interest, including securing a personal loan at a lower interest rate than the credit card companies offer. Typically people use loans to pay for their education or for large purchases like buying a house or a new car, but you can even use them to refinance credit card debt.
A lower interest rate can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Save by Meal Planning
We used to be really good at planning our meals and our trips to the grocery store but found it almost impossible to do when I was only working part-time. My husband works shift work, so our hours – and our income – were all over the place.
More often than not, we’d go to the grocery store unprepared. We’d walk up and down the aisles buying whatever was on sale, then come home and try figure out what to make out of what we had.
We should have been doing this the other way around.
Before shopping, take a few minutes to plan. See what you already have at home and figure out what you’d need to turn it into a meal. Flip through fliers to see if these items are on sale or if there are coupons for them.
When you do find a good deal on something you use all the time, stock up on it.
The more you plan, the more you save.
YOUR TURN: How are you saving money in 2017?
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