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Personal > Saving and Spending

Saving and Spending

In today's economy, it's hard enough to keep up with the bills, let alone save money. Many Americans are finding it difficult to do everything they would like and deserve to do with their money. Learning how to develop a budget and discovering the options available to you will help you prioritize saving and achieve your financial goals.

Saving

Savings can help you achieve any financial goal. Whether it’s a comfortable retirement, a down payment for a house, or a new car or stereo, you can get there by setting money aside. And best of all, you can have what you want without getting bogged down in debt. Yet if you’re like most people, you don’t save as much as you’d like to. Or you don’t save at all. Americans spend more than we earn. Consider that the national personal savings rate has dipped to the lowest point since the Great Depression. Today’s high energy, home and food prices may make saving seem less possible than ever. But the time is now. And with a little forethought and effort, saving money is not only possible, it’s easy.

Make Saving a Priority
You’ll be more likely to save money if you make it a priority. Sit down and figure out what you’d like to save money for – retirement, a house, car, college, dream vacation –and how much it will cost. Then make your plan:

  • Set a timeline for when you’d like to reach your goal.
  • Set a schedule by dividing the total goal amount by the number of weeks, months or pay periods between now and your goal date.
  • Be vigilant by treating your savings contribution just like any other must-pay expense, such as rent or groceries.

 

Find Money to Save
While it may seem difficult sometimes just to make ends meet, chances are you have extra money you didn’t even know about. Here are some ways to find it:

  • Keep track of everything you spend for a week. You might be surprised what you’re buying, and what you can do without.
  • Make purchases with cash. This can help you stick to a budget and avoid impulse purchases. Simply decide ahead of time how much you want to spend and then set aside that amount in cash before you go shopping.
  • Lower your bills. Many creditors will give borrowers a lower interest rate if they’re asked. Also, conserving electricity and gas can make a big difference.
  • Rank your nonessential expenses. Keep the ones you like the best and cut the items on the bottom of the list.
  • Pack a lunch. Or cook more dinners at home. Eating out at restaurants can eat up a lot of money that could be saved.

 

Pay Yourself First
You're probably inclined to pay everyone else first – whether it’s your landlord or your grocer or the electric company. But it’s vital to start paying yourself first by saving money. Once you’ve made a contribution to your financial longevity and well-being, then you can divide up your money to cover everything else. Don’t worry. You'll more than likely have plenty left over to cover everything you need. In fact, most banks make this easier. You can have them automatically transfer funds from your checking account to your savings account, money market, mutual fund and other accounts. You might also check with your employer. Companies will often deduct savings from paychecks if asked.

Budgeting

A budget is a plan for your future income and expenditures that you can use as a guideline for spending and saving. Although many Americans already use a budget to plan their spending, the majority of Americans also routinely spend more than they can afford. The key to spending within your means is to know your expenses and to spend less than you make. A good monthly budget can help ensure you pay your bills on time, have funds to cover unexpected emergencies, and reach your financial goals. Most of the information you need is already at your fingertips. To create or rework your budget, follow the simple steps outlined below to get a clear picture of your monthly finances. You can also use our free online budgeting calculators below to budget for certain specific purchases or events.

1. Add Up Your Income
To set a monthly budget, you first need to determine how much income you have. Using the worksheet at the bottom of this page, write a dollar figure next to each relevant income source. Make sure you include all sources of income such as salaries, interest, pension and any other income–including a spouse's income if you're married. If you get a salary, be sure to use your take-home pay rather than your gross pay. Taxes are usually taken out automatically, but if they're not, remember to include them as another expense. If you receive money from somewhere not listed, enter the source along with the amount under "other income."

2. Estimate Expenses
The best way to do this is to keep track of how much you spend for one month. The worksheet below divides spending into fixed and flexible expenses. Fixed expenses are those that generally do not change from month to month, such as rent and insurance payments. Flexible expenses are those that do change from month to month, such as food or entertainment. If some of your expenses for one or more categories change significantly each month, take a three-month average for your total.

3. Figure Out The Difference
Once you've totaled up your monthly income and your monthly expenses, subtract the expense total from the income total to get the difference. A positive number indicates that you're spending less than you earn--congratulations. A negative number indicates that your expenses are greater than your income. This means you will need to trim your expenses in order to begin living within your means.

Well done–you've created a budget. The next step is to track your budget over time to make sure you're sticking to it. If you find you aren't able to follow your budget successfully, it may mean that your plan isn't flexible enough. It can take revisiting your budget a few times to find the balance that works for you.

 

Banking

Choosing the right bank is an important step. As with any financial decision, it’s important to figure out what you want and need beforehand.


Here are a few things to consider before you open a checking account:

  • Customer Service.  Do they provide great customer service, accessibility and friendliness?
  • Fees. Services are great, but what is the cost?
  • Online Banking.  The internet has made it very convenient to keep track of your finances online: view account balances, transfer money, and pay bills.
  • Mobile Banking.  Even better, who needs a PC when you've got a smart phone!
  • ATMs.  Does the bank have machines in locations that are convenient for you?
Other Benefits
 

These days, banks are more than just places to keep your money. Many serve as one-stop financial service shops. In addition to checking and savings accounts and credit cards, here are some services and products offered by most financial institutions:

  • Credit cards
  • Lines of credit
  • Personal, business and auto loans
  • Mortgages
  • Online or mobile banking
  • Automatic bill pay
  • International banking
  • Health savings accounts
  • Financial planning
  • Investment management
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement programs

Having all of these services in one place can provide not only convenience, but also savings. At Quail Creek Bank, we offer all of these services.

Opening a Checking Account
You will want to open a checking account. A good checking account is an essential tool for building solid personal finances. It makes managing your money easier, and over time it will save you money.

  • Convenience. With a checking account, you can pay bills without heading to the post office or elsewhere to buy a money order or cashier's check—both of which cost money. And you can cash your paychecks without paying fees to a check-cashing company.
  • Keep good records. With a checking account, you have an official record of every purchase you make with the account, as well as money you receive and deposit. This can come in handy when crafting a budget, preparing for taxes or as proof of payment. Each month you’ll get a statement tallying every purchase you’ve made.

 

Choosing the Right Account

Quail Creek Bank offers a variety of checking account options.  Some are free and others carry a monthly fee.  Contact us today at (405) 755-1000 to join Quail Creek Bank!

 

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Call Us: (405)755-1000