How To Save Your First $1000!
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If you have been following our journey, you will know that we paid off $45,000 in consumer debt in 17 months. This included paying off $25,000 in student loans in 10 months. But what you may not know is that paying off debt is not the first step in paying off debt. The first step is saving a $1000 emergency fund. Well really, it’s getting your zero-based budget together, then officially starting to save your emergency fund.
So, why would you want to save before paying off debt? Well that is because emergencies are going to happen and you need to be prepared. Otherwise, when something unplanned comes up, you will get off track. This will also help you focus your budget while you are working the plan and figuring out what the plan is. Trust me, your car will break down, your dog will eat your shoes, your washer will leak, Murphy will show up one way or another along this journey.
1. Make A Written Budget
So, the first thing to do when you want to save money is to make a budget. You want to know where your money is going so you can prioritize your spending. When you realize where your money is going and keeping better track of it, you will naturally spend less of it. You may need to track your spending for a month or so to really get a good idea of where it is going.
When we first started doing a zero-based budget, I didn’t realize how much we were spending on food and eating out. Once we realized how much we were spending, we cut our grocery budget in half and cut back eating out drastically.
Once you make a WRITTEN zero-based budget, you will know exactly how much “extra” you have every month to save. You want to save the $1000 very quickly, within a month or two if possible.
2. Sell Everything
In order to save the $1000 quickly, you may need to start selling items. This could be smaller items or a large item. We sold numerous things while paying off debt, like kid toys, home decor, a trailer, and a 4 wheeler. It will all depend on what you have to sell. This is a good time to start cleaning out the house and have a yard sale.
3. Use Cash
Using cash will keep you more accountable in sticking with the budget. You can also save the emergency fund in cash if you trust yourself enough. I have found that it took me awhile to get used to cash but now I prefer it. I spend less and have to keep better track of my spending. It is so easy to overspend using a card. Then when I check my back account, I realize I spent more than I meant to. Happens EVERY TIME! So, using cash will help you save more money and stick to the budget.
4. Use a Different Bank
I still do this for my fully funded emergency fund. I have two banks and use one for my savings and one for my regular bills and spending. The account with my savings does not have checks or a debit card attached to it. So, if I need money, I have to physically go to the bank and get it. It keeps me from spending it $20 here and $20 there. You could even use an online only bank where it could take a couple of days to get your money out. I highly suggest having it somewhere you do not have easy access to it. It is for an emergency, not a deal you found.
5. Make it Automatic
What I have done for a very long time when doing my budget is paying myself first. When I did use the same bank for my savings account and checking account, I set up an automatic draft from checking to savings. Depending on the banks you use and the types of accounts you have, you may or may not be able to make it automatic from the banking side. However, you can make it “automatic” in your budget. When you are making your budget, automatically set money aside for savings. This will look different depending on your bills and income. Think of paying yourself as if it were a bill. Write it down as part of your budget, write yourself a check if you have to, and pay yourself into your other account.
There are other ways to save and make it automatic. For example, if you have a “keep the change” account. Some banks offer rolling over the change from a purchase into a savings account. So, if you spend $1.25 on your debt card, the bank will roll $.75 into an account and debit your checking $2 instead of the $1.25. Now if you took my advise and are using cash, you can save the change yourself at home. I have a mason jar on my kitchen counter that I put my change in everyday. I wait until it fills up and then I cash it in and put it in my savings account. I usually have $60-$80 in change when I cash it in.
I started this journey after reading The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. If you enjoy my articles, I highly suggest reading this book. I love it so much, I am constantly giving it as gifts. It is truly life changing! You can buy it here.
What other tips or advice to you have for saving money quickly? Do you have your starter emergency fund saved? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook!