Dear Clients and Friends of Cornerstone:
National polls often show that most of us are not saving – or not saving enough – to adequately prepare for retirement. This month’s article discusses 5 signs that may indicate you need to rethink your savings plan, and provides tips and links to make that process easier. Are coffee shop lattes a necessity or a luxury? Can I increase my savings without sacrificing my lifestyle? The answer is not the same for everyone, and this article should help you recognize what is most important to you.
If you would like to refer back to any previous newsletters we have published, you can find them on our website. Please be sure to visit www.ccadvisors.com.
– Cornerstone Capital Advisors
5 Signs You’re Not Saving Enough Money
Kathleen Elkins | @kathleen_elk
9:00 AM ET Tue, 17 April 2018
Data shows that Americans could be saving more: 65 percent save little or nothing at all, and half could end up struggling in retirement. Additionally, only 39 percent of Americans have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency.
Are you on track?
To help you evaluate, CNBC Make It rounded up five warning signs that could indicate you need to start setting aside more.
1. You have no idea how much you spend
You probably have a good idea of how much money is coming in each month, but just how much is flowing out, toward expenditures like coffee, Uber, subscriptions and delivery? It’s likely more than you think and, chances are, you could find ways to cut back.
To figure out exactly where you spend more of your money than you mean to, record your purchases for a couple of months. You could try writing expenses down in a notebook or using an app that will track your spending, such as Mint or Personal Capital.
2. You don’t have savings goals
You can’t get to where you’re going if you don’t know exactly what you want. Think about what you want your future to look like and then come up with precise savings goals. Do you want a vacation home? Kids? The ability to travel?
Next, calculate how much you need to save for these future purchases and for how long, and start setting aside a certain amount each week or month.
3. You’re living paycheck-to-paycheck
If you can barely pay your bills each month, you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, which makes it nearly impossible to build up substantial savings.
You either need to increase your income or spend less. The simplest way to boost your earning potential is to ask for a raise. You can also find a part-time job, start a side hustle or establish passive income.
If you’re aiming to spend less, start by reading up on money saving strategies from everyday people who bank half their income.
4. You can’t pay your credit card balance in full
Not being able to pay more than the minimum month after month means you’re spending more than you have. That’s a path to credit card debt, which will make you fall even farther behind on your savings goals.
Analyze your spending habits and identify areas where you can cut back in order to free up your cash and pay your balance in full.
If you’re already in the red, consider ditching your plastic all together and going cash only, which will force you to stay on budget.
5. You don’t have an emergency fund
Life doesn’t always go as planned. You could lose your job, have a medical emergency or deal with a car breaking down. It’s important to build yourself a safety net.
If you’re not prioritizing your emergency fund, you’re not saving enough. Personal-finance expert Dave Ramsey recommends starting an emergency fund even before tackling debt. The idea is that, if an emergency or unexpected big cost arises, you won’t have to go into more debt to cover it.
Aim to save $1,000 right away, Ramsey says. Of course, $1,000 isn’t an ideal amount to have in your emergency fund, but it can serve as a sufficient temporary cushion until you’re debt-free.
Once you’ve paid off your debt, you can start building a more complete rainy day fund to cover the expert-recommended three to six months of living expenses.