Good savers start now
Good savers start early, say Janet Stanzak and Kristin Garrett, certified financial planners who started their firm Financial Empowerment as a way to help people kick bad money habits and develop better ones. Many good money savers were taught as children to sock away for a rainy day but even those who weren't have learned to jump on an opportunity. "As soon as they see they have an option, like a retirement savings plan through work, they take it," Garrett says. "Good savers don't procrastinate financial decisions."
Good savers have a retirement account
It's not new advice but there's a reason every financial adviser repeats it: Because this is your future we're talking about. A good rule of thumb is to put 10 percent of your paycheck each month straight into a retirement account, Garrett says.
Good savers know the difference between wants and needs
One of the biggest lies we're sold today, Stanzak says, is that wants are actually needs. "I've had so many clients try and tell me that travel, new clothing, and eating out are real needs," she says. "They're really not." Instead, good savers actually write down a list of their basic needs, their wants, and their big wishes. These frugal living tricks will help you squeeze more out of everyday things.
Good savers don't use bill autopay
Autopay makes banking easier: In fact, it makes it too easy for money to flow in and out without your really registering what's happening, Garrett says. Whether it's writing out a physical check or filling out the form online, intentionally paying your bills makes your brain note the expenditure. Even better, she adds, good savers write all those down in their budget. Which leads us to...
Good savers have a budget
Yes, a real, honest-to-goodness written chart or spreadsheet that they update and balance regularly is a trademark of good money savers. "The first clue you have that someone has a problem with money is when they can't provide their monthly cash flow," Stanzak says. You can't save if you don't even know how much money you have to begin with.
Good savers use cash or checks
This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, Stanzak says, but good savers often tend to use physical types of money. "Research shows you spend 20 percent more when using a credit card because it makes purchasing feel less 'painful,'" she explains. Handing someone a wad of cash or writing out a check provides enough of a mental speed bump to slow down many impulse buys. Here are 13 sneaky things your credit card company might know about you.
Good savers prioritize saving
It sounds simple but one of the best habits good savers have is simply making saving a priority in their lives, says Andrea Woroch, a consumer-finance expert. "Before spending on anything else, they pay themselves first by putting savings into a retirement account or other self directed savings account," she says.
Good savers keep track of the little things
What's a latte here or a $0.99 app there? Little things can add up to big expenses quickly, Garrett says, often before you even realize what's happening. Good savers will write down in their check ledger or budget all their expenses, even the tiniest ones.
Good savers look for deals
Being frugal is a big part of saving money. And good savers are not too proud to use coupons, hunt down the best deal, or research all possible options before buying. "Good savers think through each purchase and research alternatives like used options, compare competitor prices, look for coupons, and read reviews in detail to make the best buying decision," Woroch says. Here are 33 tricks to get deals on just about anything.
Good savers adjust for life changes
"You'd be amazed at how many people get divorced but keep living their married lifestyle," Stanzak says. Big life changes, like job layoffs, divorces, and illness, inevitably affect our budgets. Good savers amend their spending to reflect their new earning or income status regardless of how painful it is to acknowledge.