Want a simple, pain-free plan to increase your savings? CPA, author and blogger Mike Piper says to save 1 percent more. "Increase your savings contributions by 1 percent of your gross income," he suggests.
It might be difficult to imagine how such a small change could make any difference at all, but according to Piper, this strategy can work wonders, especially if you are young. I could not agree more.
Anything you can do to become a consistent saver is going to come back to bless you in many ways in the future. A personal program of consistent savings does more than increase your bank account. It changes your attitude. It quiets your insatiable desires and moves you away from the edge, where it is easy to worry and panic.
Money in the bank changes everything.
We Americans are not very good savers. In fact, as a nation, we're pretty pathetic. As of this writing, the personal savings rate in the U.S. is right at 6 percent of disposable personal income. To add perspective, the average annual disposable income per person works out to just about $44,000. A 1 percent increase would boost annual savings by just $440 annually. Or, for some, from $0 to $440. Hey, it's a start, and a good one at that!
I understand that saving money isn't easy. That's because the cost of everything seems to be rising and there are so many things our families need. It takes courage and creativity to stretch the money far enough to last until the next payday.
I get it. But I also know how easy it is to turn "wants" into "needs." You know what I'm thinking about; that would be your cable TV bill and smartphone data plan. I'm talking about restaurant meals and fancy coffee drinks. Money has a way of leaking out of our lives. If you're smart, you'll start to notice and do something to plug the leaks.
I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that we could be heading into particularly difficult economic times. Things are uncertain. That's why we need to get our heads out of the sand and plan accordingly.
If you were to know for certain that you would lose your household income exactly six months from today, that for a season you would have to survive on what you had saved, how would you prepare?
You don't know what is going to happen this year, so why not go ahead and begin to prepare as if it will be the worst-case scenario? Then, if all is well in six months, you'll have started a nice nest egg. Get tough; be strong.
One percent, just 1 piddly percent more than you are saving now. For some, that would mean starting from scratch — saving just 1 percent of your paycheck.
Don't think about it. Just do it. Don't flinch. Don't overthink. Just designate a place to save it, and then get 'er done. Then, every day, find your motivation and inspiration for ways to do that right here at Everyday Cheapskate. That's what we're all about — finding every way possible to save time and money ... every day!
I'll check back this time next year to see how this has worked out for you. I'm smiling because I already know.
I can't wait for you to find out.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.