Find the Secret to a Savings Plan That Works

It's the ultimate Catch-22. You know you want to start saving money this year but you're already struggling to pay the bills as it is. Saving feels impossible.

Fortunately, it's not. The truth is, saving money really isn't that difficult once you get going - it's getting started that's the hard part. But I'll let you in on a little tip: it really doesn't matter how much you save at first. The point is to get into a habit, whether you begin by setting aside $100 or $1.

Many times, we tell ourselves that we'll start socking away money once we start making more of it. In reality, when the boss finally rewards you with that raise, you'll probably start finding other uses for the extra cash. But if you vow to save just a little bit of each paycheck today, you'll have more money tomorrow - whether or not you get a boost in income.

In a perfect world, you'd be able to set aside 10% or more of each paycheck. But it's OK if you're not there yet. Figure out what you're comfortable with. Let's pretend you decide you want to try $50 a month. If you're already spending every dime you earn, where will that money come from? To find out, you're going to have to look at where your money goes.

Do you have a thrice-weekly jumbo-sized caramel macchiato habit? Switch to regular old homebrewed coffee and you'll save enough to meet your monthly quota. Do you eat lunch out almost every day? Try cutting back a few times a week. Or consider canceling that unused gym membership or the extra cable channels you never find time to watch.

If you're afraid to give up some of life's luxuries, remember that you're saving now so you'll have more money later. If you find you're able to cut out more than the original amount you budgeted, more power to you - the more, the merrier. And if you're struggling to meet your original goal? Don't give up - just scale it back until you find an amount you can live with. Then, increase your savings goal when you're ready.

We'll cover some of the other factors to a good savings plan - like investments and interest - in the future. For now, just worry about getting started - and if you run into an obstacle, getting help. If you have too much debt, find out if a bankruptcy plan is the jumpstart you need when you try a free personal debt analysis with one of our Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys. Or sign up for a free community workshop to find answers to your financial questions - and get entered into a raffle for a new laptop. Getting the ball rolling might not be easy - but it's all downhill from here.

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