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News & Press: Financial Literacy News

How to Save $2,000 by Summer

Monday, February 13, 2017   (0 Comments)
Share | 02/10/17


With four months to go until summer, there is plenty of time to set aside money for a vacation, a long-delayed home repair or whatever else you need to enjoy those fleeting warm months to the fullest.

Finance experts say it's crucial to have a goal. Without one, it's easy to lose motivation and start spending frivolously. You also need a separate account for your savings. "You can't leave money in your regular account and expect it to be there," says Linda Matthew, owner of Money Mindful Personal Finance Coaching in Sacramento, California. "There's no such thing as leftover money."

Once you have your goal and a designated account, it's time to start saving. Here's a reasonable way to get $2,000 in your bank account by summer.

Bank Your Tax Refund

Potential Savings: $500

The IRS reports the average tax refund received in 2016 was $2,860, so it's conceivable you could meet your $2,000 savings goal simply by filing your taxes and banking the return. Even if your refund is much more modest or you need to use part of the cash for other purposes, setting aside $500 in savings can give you a strong start.

Change Your Withholding

Potential Savings: $150

Saving money isn't simply about spending less. "Really, the income side is just as important as the expense side," says Jean Wilczynski, a financial advisor with Exencial Wealth Advisors in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Changing employer tax withholdings is one way to instantly boost take-home income. Those who get a $500 annual tax refund could change their withholding to minimize future refunds and put $150 back in their pocket during the next four months.

Eat in More Often

Potential Savings: $400

Eating out can majorly drain your budget. By packing lunches, skipping the morning coffee run and dining at home each night, it's not hard to save $100 or more per month on food, even for small households. "It's a trade-off between your time and money, so that's a tough one for a lot of people," Wilczynski says. If you absolutely can't eat at home every night, Wilczynski suggests at least switching to take-out meals, which can trim 10 to 20 percent off the tab if tips aren't needed.

Try a New Grocery Store

Potential Savings: $240

Even eating at home can be expensive if you're shopping at the wrong grocery store. Arielle O'Shea, a retirement and investing specialist for NerdWallet, estimates she has saved $60 a week on groceries since switching from Whole Foods to Wegmans. "I'm not suggesting you should go around to every store and compare the price of beans," she says. However, checking out the other stores in the area could mean you can buy the same items and spend less. By saving just $60 a month with smart shopping, you'll be $240 closer to your $2,000 goal.

Cut the Cable, Phone and Internet Bills

Potential Savings: $320

While the cost of some utilities, such as heat and water, can be relatively fixed, others can be pared down. The price of cable, phone and internet services can be highly variable, and often there are less expensive alternatives available. For instance, those who ditch their cable completely in favor of a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu may be able to save as much as $320 or more by summer. If you don't want to cut a service completely, O'Shea recommends calling to ask for a discount or inquiring into whether a less expensive package is available.

Trim Transportation Costs

Potential Savings: $300

Cutting out seemingly small expenses can add up to significant savings over time. Let's say that you regularly use Uber to take rides that cost $7 each. By eliminating three of those drives a week and walking or taking public transportation instead, you may be able to save $300 during the next four months. Meanwhile, those who drive to work may find carpooling can dramatically reduce the amount they spend monthly for gas.

Eliminate Unused Subscriptions

Potential Savings: $90

Failing to cancel trial subscriptions or services you no longer need results in lost dollars. "Inertia costs you a lot of money," O'Shea says. "You put it on a credit card and then forget about it." Eliminating one or two small monthly subscription fees could put $90 back in your pocket by summer.

Make It a Game

Potential Savings: Unlimited

While the above strategies should put an extra $2,000 in your bank account by June, there's no reason to stop there. By making a game of your spending habits, you could save much more. O'Shea says some people save by stashing away all their $5 bills, matching every dollar they spend with a dollar in savings or using an app such as Acorns to round up purchase prices and make automatic deposits into savings or investment accounts. Matthew suggests seeing how long you can go without making certain purchases, such as not buying any new clothes until summer.

However, all these ideas won't do any good if you spend extra elsewhere. "If you don't actually save the money, reaching your goal is not going to happen," O'Shea says. 

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