Beginner steps to start a savings plan

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- No matter what you’re saving for – an emergency, college tuition, vacation or retirement - putting money away money each month is crucial in building financial stability and peace of mind. However, more than half of Americans (63 percent) have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts while experts suggest that you should have between three and six months of income saved.

Many people think they can’t afford to save. They may be living paycheck to paycheck and need every dollar to make ends meet. Saving money is too expensive. These are just myths. Saving money is simply redirecting your income and evaluating your spending habits.

Start saving by creating a plan and following these steps:

• Keep track of your expenses – track your spending and account for every penny you spend no matter how small like a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop or a snack from the vending machine at work
• Make a budget – once you know what you’re spending your money on, you can create a budget that outlines how your expenses stack up to your income
• Treat saving like a bill – as you pay your expenses each month like utility bills and groceries, treat savings like an expense and put a certain amount in a savings account
• Choose something to save for – create short-term and long-term savings goals to keep you accountable
• Prioritize goals – while it’s important to have an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, don’t forget about your retirement goals
• Utilize the right tools – depending on what you’re saving for and the timeframe, certain tools are better than others such as a savings account or certificate for short-term goals and an individual retirement account for long-term goals
• Save automatically - every pay period, have your employer deduct a certain amount from your paycheck and transfer it directly to a savings account
• Watch your savings grow – each month, check your progress and make any necessary adjustments to ensure you’re saving for the future

The hardest part about saving is just getting started. Along with the aforementioned steps, think about saving some or all of your tax refund. It’s a simple way to put a larger sum of money away and start the habit of saving. You can have your refund directly deposited into your savings account. Start the new year with a plan and a nest egg.

America Saves, a campaign managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, is a great resource for saving tips and tricks. You can join the America Saves Pledge, sign up for text reminders and educate yourself about financial wellness. Centris Federal Credit Union also offers many products and services and a knowledgeable staff to help you reach your savings goals. Contact us today at (402) 334-7000 or at www.centrisfcu.org.