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Feature Article

This article is part of the Missouri Saves Program


Getting started saving

Joyce Cavanagh, Ph.D., former Consumer & Family Economics State Specialist, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension

Do you plan on saving a little bit from each paycheck but somehow at the end of the month you find there is nothing left over to save? Do you dream of owning a new car, a bigger house or taking that much needed vacation, but the funds just aren't there? Perhaps you feel like you will never attain your financial goals. Following the tips below will help you begin a savings plan you can stick to and assist you in reaching your goals.

  1. Make a list.
    Decide what you want to save for — having an incentive will motivate you to set and reach a goal. Choose a time frame for when you would like to attain each goal (example: I would like to have $500 for a new couch by next May).
  2. Determine an amount.
    After you have determined what you want and when you want it, determine how much you would need to save each month to reach that goal. You may need to adjust your time frame if the amount needed each month is not realistic for you.
  3. Make saving easy for you.
    Here are some tips to help (Bozworth, 2000):
    • Pay yourself first. Don't wait until the last of the month or nothing will be left.
    • Have your savings automatically deposited from your paycheck if possible. If you never see the money in your paycheck, you won't miss it as much and you won't be tempted to spend the money elsewhere.
    • Save bonuses, cash gifts, inheritances or other unexpected income.
    • Once you have paid off a loan, continue paying the amount but pay yourself instead of the creditor.
    • Be frugal in order to free up resources for savings.
    • Save at least half of your next raise.
    • Break a habit. Save the money that you no longer use toward that habit.
    • Empty out your wallet each night and save change and small bills in a jar. A little goes a long way!

  4. Establish an emergency fund.
    This fund should contain enough money to cover your expenses for 3 to 6 months if an emergency should occur in your family. If you have an emergency fund, you will not have to run up a large debt or tie up funds that should be used for something else when an unexpected situation arises. Being prepared for a financial emergency can help get you through a tough time with relative ease.



Bozworth, Carole. Getting Started: Saving and Investing. Human Environmental Sciences Publication GH3520.


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Last update: Monday, February 23, 2015