Did you know there is an entire week devoted to teaching Americans to save each year? There is! This year America Saves Week is February 19 through the 26th. America Saves was created by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council in 2007 to encourage people to improve their finances. This year’s objective: Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically. Obviously everyone’s goals will be different depending on your stage of life; some are just looking to stay afloat while others may have more specific goals like saving for a car, college, or retirement. Any amount of saving will help in the long run, right?
Set a Goal
I have two small children at home and I read recently that the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 years old is over $226,000 – not including the cost of college! Multiply that times two – yikes! After reading that, our goal is to just stay afloat! But in addition to raising a family, our financial goals include saving for a larger home, our children’s education, and for our retirement.
Make a Plan
With the staggering cost of raising a family, my husband and I knew that we needed to have a logical (and in some ways creative) plan to manage our finances. Here are a few ways that we manage to cut costs in our family:
- We have family members watch our children a few days a week while we work to save on daycare costs.
- We swap clothes and baby gear with friends and family members once their children outgrow them.
- I search yard sales for gently used toys or baby gear – I bought a practically new double stroller for $115 that would cost over $250 new!
- I clip coupons, buy things on sale, and also buy generic items when possible.
- We find coupons or deals for amusement parks, museums or other outings for our kids – as an example, the National Aquarium in Baltimore has discounted ticket prices on Fridays through March.
- I buy clothes for my children (and myself) after the season is over to get sale and clearance prices. With my children, I buy items in a larger size so they can wear them the following year.
We utilize our direct deposit to automatically put a portion of our paychecks into a savings account. If our income goes up, then the amount we put into savings goes up. We have money directly deposited into savings accounts for our children as well. We also maximize our employers’ match program for our 401(k) to help us save for our future.
It seems like a daunting task to raise a family within a budget, pay down debt and still manage to save money for not only our future but our children’s. By setting realistic goals, making a plan, and making our saving automatic we’ve managed to achieve some of our financial goals. Even the smallest amount saved will help us in the future!