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Even when you're in debt you can still build savings, these six easy steps will get you started to build savings and do it on autopilot.

Getting Started Guide: 6 Steps to Build Savings

I think you’ll agree that everyone needs savings, be it for an emergency fund, a travel fund or some other reason. Savings assures that when shit hits the fan, you’ll be okay.

Most people think that when you’re in full on debt pay off mode, you aren’t able to grow your savings, but that isn’t true. You can easily get into the habit of saving while growing your savings account even when paying off debt.

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So just how can you grow your savings? In today’s post I’m going to show you step by step how you can easily grow your savings, even while paying off debt.

Here are the 6 steps to build savings:

Step One: Figure out where you will put your savings aka where to stash your newly saved cash.

Where you stash your savings should be separate from your checking account but easily accessible. A savings account at any bank is probably best, rather than a Certificate of Deposit otherwise known as a CD.

Personally, I use Capital One, however, Chime, or Ally, or even opening a savings account at the same bank as your checking account would work.

But here is the deal:

Sometimes when your savings account is at the same bank as your checking account it can be a little too easy to access. Which means you may be dipping into your savings when you really shouldn’t.

Savings accounts work best when you are using the money for it's intended purpose, an emergency fund should be used only for an actual emergency.

A car savings fund only for that car you wanted. A travel fund to be used for your dream vacation. You get the idea.

Step Two: Review your budget to eliminate just one expense, ideally one you aren’t using anymore

I guarantee there is one expense you could cut...

Maybe it is Netflix

Or take out coffee once a week (you could still go the other 4 days)

Or cut back on your electric bill by unplugging items when you aren’t using them.

There is definitely some way to cut your expenses. It doesn’t have to be a lot either.

Start with just $5.

Putting $5 aside every month will add up to $60 a year. If you can cut more than that, do it, I used this list to help me cut back my expenses by $175 a month.

Other areas that might be easy to cut back a little on:

Food - particularly grocery shopping

Entertainment - check out this Ultimate Guide to Affordable Entertainment

Socializing - switch out one night of drinks at a restaurant for one night at someone’s home or a walk through the park to chat and catch up

Tip:

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A huge way I save money is making a list using Wunderlist (it's a free app!) before going shopping. I plan my meals, so when I find a recipe online, I add the ingredients to my desktop app, then the list syncs on my phone for when I'm at the store.

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Allea Grummert

Ask Allea

Step Three: Automate From Your Paycheck So You Don’t Have to Think About it

The thing with saving money is that out of sight = out of mind. Automating your money so that a set amount gets sent to your savings account without passing go, makes it easier to save.

You have a couple of options for setting up automation:

The best is if you can have your employer split your paycheck so a set amount gets directly deposited into your savings account and the rest of your paycheck goes to your normal checking account.

When I had a regular 9-5, my company actually allowed me to split my paycheck into numerous accounts, so I was actually able to automatically save for different goals into different savings accounts. It doesn’t hurt to ask if you can do this too.

If direct deposit into your savings account isn’t an option then you can usually automate through your the bank where you have your savings account.

Here’s how:

Set up a recurring transfer for the set amount from your checking account (even if it’s at a different bank) to your savings account every time you get paid.

For example, you can go to your bank or your savings account go to transfer and set up a recurring transfer. Choose your amount. (If you’re just starting out, I recommend starting small, say $20.) Remember you can always go back and edit this recurring transfer so as you get better at saving you can increase the amount you save.

Remember:

It’s okay to start small, you’re build your savings over time, not overnight. When I first started automating savings from when I got paid, I started with just $25 and worked my way up to $100 going into my savings account every time I got paid.

Related: Should you automate your finances?

Recommended Tool

Chime works by starting a spending account (takes 5 minutes) and opting into the automatic savings plan. (Learn more about getting started with Chime).  Every time I use the Chime Debit Card it rounds up my purchase to the nearest dollar and puts in in savings. Right now they also offer a double round-up bonus on those savings. All those withdrawals add up over time. Chime is free to use, with no monthly fees. With Chime, you end up saving money without having to think about it.

Step Four: Get some extra umph by rounding up

Have you ever been shopping and when you go to check out, they ask if you are willing to round up your purchase for some charity?

The reasons those campaigns work is because they are easy and all that spare change adds up.

Several banks offer round up programs though they often require you to have a checking account and savings account.

Alternatively, you can use an app like Qapital which will round up purchases on your registered bank accounts or credit cards.

Related: 8 Methods for Building Savings

Best Tool

If you don't want to open up a new bank account, then Qapital can help you reach savings goals. Once you have the Qapital App installed and a bank account (or in my case three) connected you set up a goal or goals. I currently have two, one to save for taxes #selfemployed and one to save for spending money when I travel hack my way to Paris. Then you set savings rules for each of your goals.

For example, I have a round up to the nearest $2 rule, a guilty spending rule -when I buy Dominos, and a savings rule for every time I hit my step goal with FitBit. There are tons of different savings rules you can set up and the best part is Qapital is free to use. Bonus, when you use my link you'll get $5 after your first savings.

Step Five: Give it time

Slow and steady wins the race. As long as you are consistently putting money towards your savings you will see it grow. You will also see it grow from interest (though not by much since most interest rates are 1%).

You may also need to borrow from your savings on occasion, it is what it’s there for, so you’ll see the balance go up and down. It’s ok, just keep saving consistently and you will build up sizable savings.

My emergency fund savings have been almost completely depleted due to emergencies. However, because saving was already a habit, I was able to build my savings back up without stressing out.

The key to building savings is to make it a habit, that way no matter what happens you can rebuild because you are already used to not using that money.

Related: Why you need an emergency fund and a buffer

Step Six: Earn more money and put it in your savings

If you are already side hustling to pay off debt, then you could use J$ from Budget’s Are Sexy’s method of gigs for goals. Basically you could have the money from one side hustle go towards your debt and the money from another side hustle go towards your savings.

Alternatively, you could split any extra money 50/50 or some other percentage that makes sense for your financial situation.

Ways to Make Extra Money:

Pick up a Freelance Gig

Drive for Lyft

Pet sit or walk with Rover

Flip stuff on eBay

Sell your Junk

Start freelance writing

Become a Beachbody coach

Start a blog (though this is a long game)

Become a Brand Ambassador

Melissa from Sunburnt Saver recommends working as a brand ambassador for extra money. "Pay can be anywhere from $15-30/hr or you can be paid in swag. You can find that work on Craigslist, which sounds sketchy but that's how I found work and I'm still alive, although now I notice a good way to find work is through Facebook by searching "brand ambassador + your city name"

Flip Items to Sell

Kylie from The Thrift Issue made over $10k a month flipping items. Here is what she has to say, "My main tips for it are to know what things are worth and go for higher value items instead of lots of $1 items (you can value by Googling or by looking at sold listings on eBay), work in a niche (e.g. I mainly do rockabilly clothing, photography gear for a friend, books and a few other items, although I have done cars as well), list on Facebook first as it's free, take clear photos and use the apps on your phone. Start with what you want to get rid of from home, then look for items to resell at thrift stores and garage sales etc. (I have a few posts on my site about this.)

Wrapping it Up with a Bow on Top

No matter how much you manage to save each month, what matters is that you do it consistently.

Take action today, go open a savings account and start moving through the steps to make saving money a habit.

More money tools & resources i recommend

Qoins (for debt repayment) When you sign up for Qoins, you connect your bank account and then spend as you normally would. Qoins will round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and put that change towards an extra debt payment. Learn more on How Qoins Can Help You Pay Off Debt Faster

SoFi (for refinancing) If you have private loans or your debt to income ratio allows, consider refinancing with a company like SoFi. Learn more about what it's like to refinance with Sofi. Refinancing my bar loan with SoFi ended up saving me over $1,000. Use my link to refinance your student loan and you'll get a $100 bonus.

Even when you're in debt you can still build savings, these six easy steps will get you started to build savings and do it on autopilot.
6 steps to build savings | easy ways to save money | money saving tips

Liz

Liz is a writer for hire, specializing in personal finance, entrepreneurship, and legal issues. She shares her own journey to debt freedom and helps graduates dealing with above average student loan debt on her site, Less Debt More Wine. She currently resides in NC after calling Massachusetts home for nearly a decade.

  • Tara says:

    Practical, actual tips, love them, need to put them in action now to save for some midlife travelling, thank you!!

    • Liz says:

      You’re welcome! Good luck with your saving!

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