gas-money-pump-e1398794980343-300x212When it comes to saving, are you doing enough?  If you’re like most people, your savings account is initially funded in whole or part primarily by a federal or state tax refund or perhaps an annual bonus from your employer (if you’re lucky). So how do you fuel your savings the remaining months of the year?

According to a survey from Bankrate, roughly half of Americans are saving 5% or less of their incomes, including 18% that are not saving anything.

Take note of these practical tips to consistently fund and grow your savings.

Separate, but Equal.  Open a separate, interest-bearing account just for saving.  This is an important first step because it allows you to segregate funds meant for long-term goals or true emergencies.  It also reduces the likelihood of your money being spent on unplanned or frivilous expenses.  We tend to place more attention on our checking account to monitor daily and more frequent expenses; however, your savings account is equally important to monitor because financial emergencies are a fact of life.  A healthy savings account can be the difference between an unforeseen expense being a financial crisis or a financial inconvenience.

Commit, then Automate.  Determine how much and how often you can save (monthly, bi-weekly) and put your plan into motion. Automate your savings through direct deposit via your employer and make saving one less task to manage month to month.  Alternatively, schedule an automatic transfer through your financial institution which shifts your predetermined amount from your checking to savings account on command.

Aim to save 10% to 15% of your earnings.  If that’s not attainable, start with a dollar amount (let’s say $20/month) and grow from there.  The key is to start and to be consistent.

Paycheck to Paycheck.  Transfer excess funds from your checking account to your savings account.  For example, if your current checking account balance is $2,200 and your bi-weekly paycheck represents $2,000 of the total balance, transfer the excess $200 to your savings account.  Do this every pay period and watch your savings grow! saving-tips

Roll those Coins.  Some people scoff at loose change, but coins add up and could be earning interest instead of laying dormant in couch cushions and car seats.  Reuse an empty vase or purchase a cool coin counter or coin sorter to encourage the collection of those nickels and dimes in one place. Set a reminder on your calendar twice a year or once a quarter (pun intended) to roll your coins and deposit them into your account.

Online Shopping Rebates.  Online (internet) shopping is becoming so commonplace and super convenient, why wouldn’t you reap the benefits offered? Sites like Ebates.com and BeFrugal.com pay members cash back for simply shopping online.   You are still shopping at your favorite stores, the only difference is you access them through these sites who give you a percentage back (anywhere from 1% up to 15% or more) on your purchases.  Payments are made via check or deposited directly to your PayPal account.  They also offer coupons and discounts. #winwin

Evaluate Recurring Bills.  Review your spending and find dollars to boost your savings account. Using personal finance tools like Mint.com are a great way to raise alerts on spending areas where you can potentially save money – for FREE. Quick wins typically come by shopping around for auto, renter’s or home insurance before you renew your existing policy. Consider raising the deductible or switching to a company with better rates for the same or comparable coverage.   Based on your timing, these small changes can result in a refund or lower monthly payments (aka “savings deposits”) of several hundred dollars. Another fast find is by canceling unused gym memberships, Netflix or magazine subscriptions. Simply redirect those monthly fees to fuel your savings account instead.  

We want to hear from you.  Did you find these tips helpful?  What other ways would you suggest fueling a savings account?