Are you saving money? And by saving, we mean are you putting money in to a savings account, 529 account, or even a piggy bank? You will be spending a lot of money on college and education, but you should still find ways to save money.
September happens to be National College Savings Month. Despite advertisements trying to sell discounted merchandise saying otherwise, the goal of the month is to educate college students, and everyone else, about the importance of saving money.
Putting money away is simply common sense. Whether you’re saving for a goal (college, car, or computer) or just in case, saving is a major part of financial literacy. The hard part is finding money to put away. Here’s some tips:
Budget for it
Just like you would budget for food, rent, student loan payments, and gas, include putting money aside as a budget item. Then you can plan for it and be sure to put money into savings every month. It doesn’t have to be much, especially if you’re in your teens or 20s. Just putting away $5 a month is good and it will build up in savings faster than you think. You can skip one mocha a month at the coffeehouse, can’t you?
Put the extra away
Do you still get a check or dollar bills from relatives on your birthday? Did you get an extra big tip or win a bit with a scratch-off ticket? Or better yet, did you get a raise or bonus? Then put it in your savings. If there is a need for you to spend it (as in a car repair, not a new set of headphones), pay that first. But whenever you can, if you have a bit extra and don’t need the money right away, put it away.
Think long term
Aim for saving for money on a long-term basis, not just for a specific need or want. Savings can be a lifesaver. It is a great idea to save up for a new computer, new clothes, or new furniture. But it’s also a good idea to put money away for “just in case.” It’s a rainy day fund. And when it starts to pour after a car accident, medical emergency, or unemployment, then you’ll be very happy to have it. As a bonus, most savings accounts also pay interest, so the longer you leave it, the more money you can get.
You may not always be able to put a lot of money away each month. And that’s okay. You don’t have to put a lot of money aside if you’re planning for the long term. Building up your savings is a long-distance race, not a sprint. So do what you can, just make sure you do put some money away.
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Tom Wray is all about the research, getting it right, and making it relevant. He’s got solid journalistic experience in all forms of content delivery – and he’s got his keyboard humming with what’s up and important for students, college admins, parents, employers and news junkies. Check out his weekly columns: Student Loans 101, News Flash!, Eye On School Success, Eye On Student Success and more. Follow him on Twitter at @Tom_Ceannate.