As the moratorium on evictions comes to an end on January 31st, 2021, there is increasing anxiety among millions of Americans as the security of their financial future has been brought into question. The pandemic has highlighted the need to save for a ‘rainy day’, and while we are still recovering from its effects, it’s never too late to start saving. As the Founder of CFSI Loan Management, a leading nationwide construction risk management firm, Brian Mingham knows how important it is to stick to a budget. If you’re looking for some guidance on how to save your money effectively to work towards your financial goals, look no further because he is here to cover the basics.
Start an Emergency Fund
It is important to continually practice saving. If you don’t already, start putting money away every time you receive a pay cheque. Brian Mingham explains that doing so will allow you build an emergency fund. An emergency fund is usually three to six months of your income and will provide you with peace of mind. When you start taking control of your finances, it’s important to start with small, achievable goals and move your way up from there. Once you’ve saved enough money to constitute an ‘emergency fund’, you can then start working towards saving for your college fund, retirement, and other financial goals.
Face Your Poor Spending Habits and Create a Budget
Figuring out how much money to put away will depend on how much money you make and what your other expenses are. Brian Mingham suggests building a monthly budget to gain a better understanding of where you are spending your money in order to cut unnecessary expenses. Until you quantify how much money you spend eating out, on entertainment, or shopping, it can be challenging to build habits that allow you to responsibly save money. It’s also hard to come to terms with your current poor spending habits, but it’s necessary to get back on track. He suggests downloading a budgeting app, like Mint, PocketGuard or Goodbudget, to help keep you on track. Many of these apps connect to your bank account and are completely free to use.
The 24-Hour Rule
If you fall victim to impulse shopping, you may want to create rules around spending to start building better habits. For example, you may want to create a 24-hour rule. Brian Mingham explains that this means avoiding buying expensive or unnecessary items until you have had 24-hours to think about it. This reduces the odds of making poor purchasing decisions. If you find yourself purchasing unnecessary items from marketing e-mails, click ‘unsubscribe’. The goal here isn’t to cut all spending, but to become conscious of what you are spending your money on in order to make better choices.
The Bottom Line
Lastly, Brian Mingham stresses the importance of planning ahead and being prepared. If you are going to go grocery shopping, make a list and stick to it. If an item you continually purchase is on sale, stockpile it to save money. Plan your meals ahead of time instead of eating out. Bring coupons with you to purchase necessary items at the grocery store. Use public transit whenever you can — avoid taking Uber or Lyft. These small adjustments can make a big difference when it comes to achieving your financial goals.