Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Twelve Week Plan: Savings

A recent paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research states that almost a half of the families in the United States would be unable to raise $2,000 in thirty days if faced with an emergency.  These families are considered "financially fragile" and are only one step from facing foreclosure or worst, homelessness.

Does Your Piggy Bank Look Like This?
What would you do if you lost your job or were injured and could no longer work?  If your roof began to leak buckets and needed to be replaced, could you pay for a new roof without taking out a loan?

My goal is to have twelve weeks of living expense money saved at all times.  This means that my family could live and pay all of our bills from our savings accounts for twelve weeks.  I also would like to have an "emergency repair" fund to cover home repairs and car breakdowns when they occur (notice I didn't say if they occur).

We are close to this goal and have met this goal most of our married life.  Now I have to tell you that when we got married thirty years ago we were dirt poor.  We could only afford to buy one roll of toilet paper each week when we bought groceries (is this tmi).  I worked two jobs and dear husband was a full time student with a part time job.  It was rough!

How did we save our twelve week money?  One dollar at a time.  My goal at that time was to put $10 into saving each month.  If we had a little extra it went in too.  No luxuries for us for a few years.

My point here is that everyone can save, just not the same amount.  But you should set a budget and include savings at the top of the list.  Have you heard the saying that you should pay yourself first?  That means to save what you can afford before you do any spending.  The easiest way to do this is with a payroll deductions.  Trust me, if it never touches your hands, you will miss it much less.

Your twelve week savings is for emergencies, not Christmas presents or other luxuries that we have come to view as necessities in this country.  Nope, I am talking about keeping that roof over your head and one car running so you can get to work type of emergencies.  I am not talking about medical bills; you can negotiate a payment plan with most doctors and hospitals, so don't drain your emergency savings to pay them (this is another post). I am not talking about school clothes for the kids; they can wear hand me downs or thrift store finds.  Emergencies Only!!!

You Want Piggy To Look Like This!

Set up a budget now that covers necessary living expenses.  Include the amount of savings you can afford.  Now add a little more to the savings and try to get by for a couple of months to see if it will work for you.  Set up a conservative investment savings account (your bank or credit union can help you), then ask your place of work to set up a direct deposit for you.  If you can't direct deposit, as soon as you get your pay, immediately put the savings amount in your twelve week account.

Keep adding to your twelve week savings account when you come into some money.  Do you collect your change in one place, like a piggy bank?  Then have it counted and rolled every few months and deposit it in savings.  Skip a haircut, learn to trim your own bangs, and use that money for savings.  Make it a challenge and a game for your family to find the hidden money in your household.  Saving can be fun and very gratifying when you see your twelve week savings plan come to fruition.

God bless,

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