03 May 2012

First Call: Savings Checkup - Lend an EAR!

Posted in Savings

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Are you Saving? 

Excuse me please, I apologize for interrupting you today but I must ask:  Are you saving money on a regular basis?  In reading a recent issue of Smart Money magazine, I found that a poll by

Bankrate.com showed that just 24% of Americans have the classic 3 to 6 months of income set aside in savings and almost 25% poll respondents have no savings at all.  That same article references a recent survey from ING that reported that most of the respondents of that survey (54%) put reducing debt as their top priority and only 24% of those respondents cited setting up an emergency fund as a top priority. 

If you know anything about me by now, you know that I made an audible gasp while reading this article. Saving money on a regular basis is a key practice in a sound personal financial management plan.  Getting free from debt should definitely be on the top of our list as we are managing our personal finances in a responsible way. 

Make no mistake – Saving Money Is Important! 

I'm personally not hearing or reading this advice so I'm assuming that you aren't either.  Allow me to repeat myself - Saving Money Is Important!

I heard this guidance from my parents and grandparents years ago.  As parents today, what are we telling our children about saving money?  My mind tells me that grandparents aren't purchasing piggy banks for the little ones today as they used to do.  I've found that they are plentiful in stores as they fill the shelves of overstocked merchandise and markdowns.  Is there anyone of influence encouraging us to save money?    

In my opinion, encouragement to save money is not something that we get from our church leaders on a regular basis if at all.  We are often taught about tithing, giving and sowing a seed in preparation to reap a financial harvest.  If we’re striving to live our lives following Christian Biblical financial principles, we should commit to saving money in addition to tithing and giving to the advancement of God’s kingdom.

Biblical Scripture Encourages Saving Money

Proverbs 21:20 tell us that there is a desirable treasure and oil in the house of the wise but the fools spends everything that he gets.   Here’s the scripture:

There is desirable treasure, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it.                                                       
Proverbs 21:20 NKJV

The meaning of the word treasure is stored-up wealth.  Again, Christian biblical scripture does encourage saving money.

An EAR of Savings

One meaning of the word Ear as defined in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is to have attention and awareness.   We use this meaning of the word when we say things like “lend an ear to the activities of the youth in your family”.  I submit that we should lend an EAR to our savings practices - show attention and have awareness.

EAR is an acronym that I created to group and classify the three types of savings that we all should have. 

E   Emergency        

These reserved living funds are readily available to cover unplanned financial demands that arise.  Unplanned financial demands could include car repairs, unexpected illness/doctor bills, job loss or paycheck reduction.  Strive to make this fund equal to 3 to 6 months of your current living expenses.

A   Appointed         

This savings fund is designated for specific future purchases.  This could also be called your savings for those big ticket items that you're planning to purchase  – thus they are not emergencies.  This could include getting a new car, family vacation, college fund, Christmas gifts, and home repairs/enhancements to name a few.  This fund will eliminate the need to borrow for those purchases which will allow us to maintain a debt free life.   The target amount and timeframe for this savings is determined by the dates and amounts required for those specific planned activities that will be funded by this source.

R   Retirement        

This savings is a long term savings that is not touched or altered until it is time to activate your retirement plan.  It is wise to have these saving activities taking place in an automated fashion.  Set savings amount and timeframe goals for this fund.

If you don’t have all of these three types of savings in place start today!  Start with the emergency fund and begin with what you have in your hand.  If you can only save $5 a month, do that!  You will be amazed of how you will be blessed with additional funds to add to this savings once you make that initial step to begin with what you have!  

The main reason that we don’t save money on a regular basis is that we need everything that we have (and then some) to meet our everyday living expenses.  If this is your reason for not saving, I’d like to challenge you to start doing things a little bit differently to free up every day living funds to start building and/or growing your savings account.

I’m going to give you three ideas to consider that if adopted, could help you to shift money from your everyday living expenses directly into your savings account.  Keep an open mind!  Some of these things may sound a bit radical; they may sound as if they will change your life.  They will – but in a good way!

Here are some strategies to consider if you can’t find “extra money” to save

  1. Eliminate one dining out experience each week and deposit those funds immediately in your savings account.  The dining out experience could be a lunch (drive through or sit down restaurant) or a family pizza night.  You can either fast for that meal or eat what you have at home by carrying your lunch.  For the family pizza night - how about making your pizza dinner instead of ordering it?  It will be motivating to see your savings grow from this change which requires  very small lifestyle changes.

  2. If your bank has a program that allows you to save in an automated fashion, sign up today!  Programs that exist include automated transfers from checking to savings, automatically rounding up debit payments for purchases to the nearest dollar and depositing into savings the change that is added as a result of this rounding-up.

  3. Delay regular grocery shopping trip by one week once a month and deposit the amount that would be spent in that shopping trip into savings.  What do you do for food?  Eat what’s in the freezer and pantry!!  There’s always something there – we just want to eat something else!  Some of my favorite home-cooked simple eats first came from my decision to eat what I had in the freezer and pantry.  At different times I’ve dined on spicy refried beans with roasted pecans served with toasted flour tortillas, greens and cornbread waffles and sautéed garlic spinach with sardines served with steamed rice.  I know these are crazy food combinations but they worked!  Cancelling a weekly grocery shopping trip each month and saving those grocery dollars instead will work for you too.  I’m challenging you to try it!

Do you have other ideas?

Do you have an idea to share that can help those that can’t seem to find funds to save?  Please share your great idea here by posting a comment on this topic.  It’s easy to post a comment to this blog post and it's now time that I hear from you!!

If you are reading this in an email, to post a comment please visit the Money reVerse website. 

If you’re not saving, please start this week!  You can do this!   No amount is too small.   If you are an individual of influence in your family, begin encouraging our young and mature to save. 

This is the First Call for a Savings Checkup.  We'll talk again on this subject...

Carolyn M. Williams

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