Struggling to save money?  More than half of all Americans are.  GoBankingRates reports that 57 percent of people have less than $1,000 in the bank.  Saving for the future isn’t easy when you have rent, a car note and student loans to worry about.  However, having a healthy savings account is essential to avoiding debt and achieving your financial goals.  If you’ve tried and tried and still find it impossible to save, we have some simple tips that can help.

Start now

One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that we’ll start saving once we get this or that out of the way.  Except, it never fails that something else always pops up.  Stop making excuses and just take the plunge.  Even if you can only set aside $5 from each check, that’s still $5 more than you had yesterday.  The key is to get the ball rolling and be consistent.  When you’re able to find more wiggle room in your budget, increase your contributions so you’re saving as much as possible.

Automate

If you have trouble setting aside money on your own, the best thing to do is put your savings on auto-pilot.  There are two ways to get the job done.  The first option is to setup automatic transfers with your bank.  Just choose an amount and a frequency and your money will be transferred into your specified account on those days.  Alternatively, you can get a helping hand from your employer.  Many companies allow you to split your direct deposit into multiple accounts.  Simply decide whether you want a fixed amount or percentage of your pay saved and they’ll take it off the top.  The rest of your money will then be direct deposited into your checking account as usual.

Set realistic goals

Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure by having overly ambitious goals.  For instance, aiming to save $50K in a year.  If you’re already struggling to make ends meet, what are the odds of it really happening?  Probably slim to none.  Take an honest look at your finances and set a financial goal that’s feasible.

Use a budget

Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of the things you love.  You just have to be able to afford it.  One of the easiest ways to manage your finances is to use a budgeting app.  A couple good options are PocketGuard and Clarity Money.  Just link your accounts and they’ll track your expenses so you don’t go overboard.  They’ll even look for ways to lower your recurring bills so you save more money.  Remember, the less you spend on nonsense, the more money you’ll have for your financial goals.

Choose the right bank

Banks are supposed to help you save money, not cost you money.  Therefore, it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.  Ideally, you want a bank that offers high interest rates and limited fees.  Look for one with a low balance requirement and the ability to waive monthly service fees.  Typically, banks won’t hassle you if have direct deposit or pay your bills online.  Find out what happens if you use an ATM outside of your network.  Some financial institutions reimburse the fees imposed by other banks.  Also ask if there’s a transaction limit.  You don’t want to be penalized for visiting the ATM one too many times.  Speaking of which, familiarize yourself with their overdraft policy.  On average, you’ll pay between $25-$35 for exceeding your limit.

Be a better shopper

Have you ever bought an item just because it was on sale?  Don’t lie, we’re all guilty of making impulse purchases.  This is exactly what sends budgets over the edge.  The next time you find yourself picking up something that’s more of a “want” than a “need”, put it down and walk away.  Usually when we give ourselves time to think, we forget all about the item.  Other tips for becoming a better shopper include:

  • Shopping with a list
  • Signing up for store loyalty reward programs
  • Browsing circulars for sales
  • Clipping coupons
  • Using cashback reward apps

Save your extra cash

Each year, millions of Americans look forward to getting their tax refund.  They want to go shopping, take vacations and flaunt it on social media.  Instead of blowing your windfall on things you don’t need, save it for a rainy day.  You’ll be doing a happy dance when something unexpected pops up and you have the cash to cover it.  Get the biggest possible refund when you file by using ezTaxReturn to do your taxes.  Of course, this probably isn’t the only windfall you get throughout the year though.  Any money you receive from birthdays, holidays or bonuses needs to go in the bank as well.