There are many tried and true ways of how to save money each month.
One of the best saving strategies is to pay yourself first. What this means is that you designate a certain amount of your paycheque as your pay (how novel) and you pay that money to yourself before you pay your bills or anyone else. This amount can be $25, $100 or maybe 10% of your paycheque. It can be any amount that you decide. The important part is that you pay yourself first rather than last. Most people pay all of the bills first and then save anything that might be left over. For most people, that method of saving doesn’t really work because nothing is left over to save.
If you pay yourself first, then money will get saved because paying yourself is now your first priority. The nice thing about this method is if your budget is a little tight, it forces you to make adjustments elsewhere and your savings continue to grow.
Paying yourself first also makes sense. Why are you going to work everyday anyway? To earn money for someone else? No way. You go to work to earn money for you and your family. That’s why you should pay yourself first—to make sure that your first priority is taken care of: you. It is not likely that anyone else is going to take care of you because they assume that you are taking care of yourself.
When you pay yourself first, you should set up an automatic way of doing this so that you don’t even have to think about it—it just happens. You can get your employer to deduct a certain amount and put it in your RRSP or you can set up automatic transfers with your bank (either online or at your local branch).
Most people who use this method find that they very quickly get use to living on a little less and soon they don’t miss the amount that they are paying themselves in their savings account. When you almost forget about automatic savings and let them grow, amazing things happen—automatically. Automatically saving $25 a week turns into $1,300 a year. Now if someone did this over a lifetime, they would get some fantastic results—automatically. If someone automatically saved $100 every paycheque (bi-weekly) from when they were 25 until they were 65, they would end up with almost $415,000 if they only received a 6% rate of interest. Of course someone could afford to save more once they got their house paid off. So their final amount could be much higher. Hopefully you can see how easy it can be to accomplish big things with just a simple automatic setup where you pay yourself first.
to Become a Millionaire—Automatically
Another amazing thing about using automatic deductions or transfers to pay yourself first is that you can use it to become a millionaire—automatically. This may sound crazy, but it actually works. If someone automatically had $2 transferred from each of their bi-weekly paycheques into their investment account from when they were 25 until they were 65, they would end up with over $1,000,000 if they averaged a 7% rate of return on their investments. So a normal person can become a millionaire automatically without winning the lottery. This plan would require a little more sacrifice than most people are willing to make in their twenties, but it is entirely possible. Now you know how to become a millionaire…..if only you were 25 again.
The very best method to saving money is to create a Spending Plan or a Budget (learn how to make a budget). With a budget you figure out what your income is and what your expenses are. Once you know these two things, you can look for ways to reduce your expenses or increase your income to allocate an amount of money that you can afford to save. This is how the world’s largest corporations do it and this is how most of the world’s successful business people do it. This method takes a little bit of work at the beginning and a check-up every year or two, but it works.
The secret to this method (if you want to call it that) is to identify what you are spending money on so that you can begin to plan your spending. Once you begin to plan your spending, you will gain control over it and you will be able to plan to spend money on your savings. In other words, you will plan to put money into your savings account. Many people don’t like to plan their spending because it involves a little bit of work (once a year). No one is saying that success will come easily, but this little bit of work will pay off big time in many areas of your finances. We dare you to try it – what have you got to lose?
For some people, keeping things really simple works best. Ideally you should have . . .
If this is too much for you, get started by simply putting your money into one savings account, and then grow your savings from there.
You can put money aside on a regular basis for a down payment for a house, a car, or for your retirement. To get started, all of this money can go into one account, and it can double as your emergency fund as long as you don’t have “emergencies” on a regular basis.
If you find a bank or credit union that offers a free savings account, you can open up several savings accounts. Then every time you get paid, you can put money into each of these accounts for every specific thing that you are saving for. This way you can keep your money safe from accidently being spent, and it will be there when you need it.
These accounts don’t have to be actual bank or credit union savings accounts, they can be high interest accounts, Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), RRSPs, term deposits, mutual funds, or other investments. Just make sure that you don’t lock up money in a long-term investment that you might need in the short term (learn more about the differences between saving and investing for the short-term versus long-term).
We hope that you don’t do this. Every thief knows that this is the first place to look. Ditto with a roommate. Then there was that guy who dug a hole in his back yard and put $10,000 in cash into a glass jar and buried it. Later when he dug it up, he discovered that the water in the soil surrounding the jar had frozen in the winter and cracked the jar. Water then filled the jar and turned the money into a soupy mess. Because most of the bills were unrecognizable, he was not able to cash most of them in. All he was left with was one broken jar of expensive soup.
Lots of people do this—just ask your bank’s tellers—they can smell it (old money stinks). Stashing cash in your safety deposit box is definitely safer than using a mattress or burying the money in the back yard, but not much smarter. Money in a safety deposit box does no one any good. It doesn’t earn you any interest. The government insures the money you deposit into an account at a bank up to $100,000 (and there are some ways to get higher coverage than this), and if you can’t trust the bank with your money, then how can you trust the bank with the stuff in your safety deposit box?
A chequing account or a regular savings account is no place to save your money. Most of them pay hardly any interest. This is because the bank lends your money to other people when you aren’t using it. Money in a regular bank account might get used often, or you might need to withdraw it quickly, so the bank can’t lend that money out for very long because you might need it. The bank makes money when they can lend your money out for extended periods of time, and at higher interest rates, so then you earn more interest when they are able to do that. Look to earn more interest with High Interest Savings Accounts and Term Deposits or GICs.
These types of savings accounts are usually more restrictive than regular savings accounts, but they pay a lot more interest. Make sure that your bank or credit union is paying you a competitive rate (you can’t negotiate but you can move) and then save away. These types of accounts are usually safe, convenient and their interest rates usually move up as bank interest rates move up.
If you know that you are not going to need your savings for a year or more, consider putting your savings into a Term Deposits or GIC (they are pretty much the same thing). These are a great way to try to get more interest on your money than a High Interest Savings Account can offer. However, this is not always the case, but it pays to check. Most banks and credit unions will allow you to put your money into a Term Deposit or GIC with a thousand dollars or more.
For most Canadians, these are the best way to save. A Tax Free Savings Account is your own little tax haven. A TFSA is an official setup that shelters your investment from taxes. A TFSA account allows you to put up to $5,500 per year into your tax shelter and not pay any tax on the interest that you earn or on the growth of your investment. Then when you take your money out of the TFSA, you don’t pay any tax either. So now you don’t have to sneak off to the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands to invest your money and protect yourself from taxes. The government has kindly brought the tax haven to you. Whether you are saving up for a car, a down payment for a house or your retirement, a TFSA is a smart way to save and invest.
Before the Canadian government introduced the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA), an RRSP used to be one of the best ways for many people to save. An RRSP is still a good way to save money, but it is now primarily meant to be a way to save for your retirement. You and your tax advisor (if you have one) will have to decide if an RRSP is right for you.
An RRSP is basically just a setup that shelters your investment from tax until you withdraw your money from the RRSP tax shelter. With an RRSP setup, you can choose to invest in a vast array or normal investments: savings accounts, term deposits, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and other investments.
There are numerous other investments that you can use to save your money: money market funds, bonds, stocks, mutual funds and the list goes on. If you plan to spend the money that you are saving within five years, it is best to find something safe to invest in. For most people a high interest savings account or a term deposit within a Tax Free Savings Account works just fine. These options are safe and sure—you know that your money is going to be there when you need it—the same can’t be said if you choose to invest in something that has a lot more risk . . . like the stock market.
Here are 10 places to get you started
Some things are easier said than done—like saving money. So you want to save money, but where do you find money to save if you don’t have anything extra right now? Here are some great places to look: