Atomic Blog

The Importance of Saving

Most Ohioans are putting away money for emergencies, but there are still many that struggle financially and may be unprepared for those unexpected expenses.

According to the 2020 Prosperity Now Scorecard, 68.4% of Ohio households have savings accounts. That's a great majority - and about on par with national trends. Prosperity Now reports that 71% of households in the U.S. have a savings account.

But the presence of a savings account does not necessarily guarantee that individuals are adequately setting aside money in case of an emergency. Americans who lack emergency savings - or enough money to get through a major financial shock - increased from 36.8% in 2018 to 40% in 2019. Ohio fared slightly better, where 59.2% of households kept emergency savings in the past year.

Data suggests that some Americans - including Ohioans - may not be on track for a healthy savings account in the future. According to a study from Bankrate.com, 21% of Americans have no set savings plan, meaning they don't regularly put money from each paycheck into savings.

Nearly a quarter of respondents to an America Saves pledge chose "emergency savings" as their first wealth-building goal, and they're on the right track. Although research shows that most Americans don't have enough savings to cover an unexpected emergency, there's no time like the present to start putting money aside for financial security in the future. 

Credit unions exist to improve their members' lives and can be a great partner to help you save for the future. Most Ohioans are eligible to join and enjoy the benefits. 

TIPS FOR BUILDING SOLID SAVING HABITS

1. If you're a beginner, start small. Even if you start by saving a small amount, focus on the fact that you're saving something. Celebrate the $5 you stash away each week; It will add up to $260 by the end of the year. If you continue to build, you'll establish the habit of saving and build a strong foundation for the future.

2. Set up automatic transfers. Schedule monthly or even weekly transfers from your checking account to your savings account. Better yet, divide your paycheck between your accounts so that the allotted amount goes straight into savings. You'll save without thinking, plus it's harder to miss what was never there in the first place.

3. Evaluate your purchases. Keep your goals in mind when making a purchase. Does that new pair of shoes line up with the dream vacation you've been saving for? The home renovation? Keeping tabs on each purchase will help put your saving goals into perspective - and pump the brakes on impulse spending.

4. Budget for your savings. Keep track of your expenses by figuring out how much you think you'll spend each month, versus how much you actually spend. The difference should go into your savings account. Or, you can work backward: Start with your salary and take out your expenses. Direct whatever is left to your savings account.

5. Try an anti-budget. If the word "budget" sounds a lot like the word "diet" to you, try another method for saving smart. Pull your savings off the top of each paycheck, then spend the rest. You will only need to know how much you can afford to save each month (a good rule of thumb is 10% of your income), then you can automatically transfer that amount to savings and live off what's left.

6. Set realistic goals. If your new saving habits are too strict, you're less likely to stick with them. Don't undo all your hard work! Create small rewards for yourself along the way, like a nice dinner when your savings account hits a certain amount. Saving money does not have to be a miserable experience.

7. Participate in your company's 401k retirement savings fund (if offered). Savings grow faster because it's not taxed until it's used later. Often, the company contributes to the fund as well. Keep in mind these are long-term savings and could be more costly if used in the short-term.

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