If You Have No Savings, Do These 5 Things Immediately

For those struggling to save money, building a savings account can feel impossible. But with a few easy tweaks to your budget, a brighter financial future is both possible and probable.

In a perfect world, we’d all have stacks on stacks in our savings accounts. We’d pick up the check without hesitation, and we’d be making goo-gobs of money every month. In a perfect world, our money troubles would never become a burden. There’d be quick fixes and only low interest rates. A girl can dream, am I right?

Unfortunately, the real world only seems to get pricier and oftentimes, financial emergencies have a way of popping up when we’re least financially prepared for them. That’s why it helps to have money stashed away for the rainest of days.

If you don’t have a savings account today, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, the number of Americans with no savings seems to be growing with each passing year. And it’s not hard to see why. Financially speaking, times are undoubtedly tough for most people, and debt is on the rise. Still, to get to a better place tomorrow, it’s important to take certain steps today, and without delay.

No matter where you’re at right now, building a savings account is always within reach. You might feel like you can’t, but the reality is, you’re the only one who can. Nobody knows your financial tendencies and hangups like you do and so, you just have to know where to start. Don’t let your past money mistakes or current financial messiness make you feel like saving is impossible. Dwelling won’t get you anywhere new. Instead, set your sights on moving forward and taking control of your money matters, and securing a more stable financial future.

While having a ton of money makes saving easier, it’s possible to save even if you’re currently strapped for cash. As long as you’re able to cover your financial obligations, there’s room to grow your savings. And if you’re ready to build a nest egg or safety net, take these six savings-savvy steps, starting now.

Establish Where Your Money Keeps Going

If you want to save money, you need to know where your money is going. Obviously, it’s easy to pinpoint where our money is coming from and how much is coming in. But sometimes, how quickly our paycheck vanishes can feel mysterious when it’s anything but.

You might ask yourself “Where did all of that money go?” Now’s the time to find the answer. First things first, you need to build a budget if you haven’t yet. Figuring out how you’re spending your money will help you assess how and where you can start saving it. Get it all on paper. Budgeting will help you keep your eye on the prize, which in this case, is building your savings account.

woman panicking after a shopping spree

Once you’ve written out all of your expenses, bills, and debts, allot what goes where. What’s left over? Where can you cut back on spending right now? Allot a certain amount to go into a savings account each month, no matter how small. In the big scheme of things, a little can go a very long way, especially if you’re putting back money consistently.

The good news is this: budgeting is pretty easy once you’ve gotten the hang of it. There are a ton of easy budgeting apps out there that make the process of getting financially organized easier than ever. And most of them are free. Ultimately, all of our financial woes, wants, and needs vary, so shop around. There are a ton of budgeting tools out there to choose from. Find what works for you and stick to it with building your savings in mind.

Read More: The Best Budgeting Apps of 2022

Save in Smarter Ways, Not Harder Ones

We all want to save money. But some things are much easier said than done. Sometimes, it’s a lot easier to swipe that card when we want something in the heat of the moment than exhibit self-restraint. This is often true when it comes to dieting, and it’s just as true when we try to save instead of spend.

Discipline matters, but being too strict on yourself can backfire. Don’t give yourself a hard time if you were doing well saving and then you suddenly blow some of that “don’t spend” money. Enjoy your life and never forget to treat yourself. Just know when and where to draw the line. There’s no sense in carrying around guilt about failed saving attempts.

picture of piggy bank with illustration of saving, loading bar and coins insgiht. Less saving happen caused by economic crisis and poor financial planning.

Recognize your triggers and do your best to steer clear of them. If you can’t resist a sale, cut back on your online shopping. Or, fill up that cart and then abandon it. Remember, there will always be more sales. When you feel the urge to impulsively splurge, step away. Most cravings pass if you leave them alone for long enough.

Look around and see what you don’t need. Perhaps it’s time to cancel a few subscriptions you’re not even using. Or maybe you can bundle certain services and you haven’t gotten around to doing it yet. Now is the time. Saving smart is all about being proactive and cutting back where it makes sense, not torturing yourself by too tightly pinching those pennies.

Deal With Debt

Some things are beyond our control. We have to pay to keep a roof over our heads and put food on the table. There will always be bills rolling in, no matter how much money we make or don’t make. And debt can feel inescapable. The good news is, that getting out of debt is always within our control, no matter how daunting the task at hand may be.

Rubber stamp with the text past due over an invoice document. 3D illustration. Concept of unpaid debt recovery.
Adobe Stock

For most Americans, debt is one of the biggest things standing in the way of building a solid savings. But avoiding it won’t make it go away, nor will it get you any closer to your goals. If you’re sitting on a pile of debt, interest rates will only make that pile bigger. The bigger it is, the more unmanageable it will feel. So if you want to save money, you must take back full financial control, and that will mean prioritizing paying off your debts, no matter how long it takes.

This is another reason that budgeting is so important. If you are going to resolve your financial problems and put your money back, it is essential you know what you are working with first. From there, find a debt payment strategy that suits your situation, needs, and long-term goals.

Read More: Debt Payment Strategies That Actually Work

Start Building Your Retirement Account

If you currently have no savings account, building a retirement account might sound like a longshot. But there are more ways to do it than you might think. In reality, your emergency fund and your retirement fund are two of the most important savings accounts you’ll ever build. And the better you become at saving in general, the more within reach both will seem.

coins in glass jar representing retirement fund

Your retirement account won’t just be built on the money you stashed away. If you want to see it grow, it will need to be funded by investments. Investing might be the last thing on your mind if you’re in a financial pickle, but it’s time to shift your perspective. You don’t have to invest more than you can budget. Start small.

With apps like Stash and Acorn, you can start your investment journey with as little as $5. Any financial expert will tell you; that successfully investing in stocks is all about playing the long game. But before you can watch those funds slowly but surely grow, you have to start somewhere.

Read More: Top Investing Tips For 2022

Keep Budgeting

When conditions start to improve, don’t quit while you’re ahead. The key to saving in a lasting way is to keep doing it, even when you feel like it’s okay to stop. Staying on track isn’t always easy, and abiding by a budget can create much-needed clarity in financially messy situations.

Ultimately, your budget should be treated like a tool and a guide that you never leave home without. At some point, your budgeting strategies will become more ingrained and over time, saving money consistently will get easier too. With that said, the urge to splurge may never go anywhere. And that’s why continuing to budget and monitor your spending will never stop being useful and important.

Young woman concentrating on a phone and calculator
Adobe Stock

If you still overspend occasionally, don’t beat yourself up over it. With a solid budget and a growing savings account, you’ll more readily know when you can afford to splurge and when you absolutely cannot.

In a nutshell, building a savings account is a way to better your financial health, not a means to an end. You never know what life may throw your way, but the better prepared you are to handle it financially, the less detrimental the damage will be. So protect yourself by having your back all the time. Budgeting isn’t a way to hold you back, it’s a tool to help you move forward, little by little, every single day.

Read More: Budgeting Questions to Keep Your Spending in Check

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