What do YOU want to do?...
The future is closer than you think, and it’s not always predictable. If ever there was a time to start preparing for it, it’s now. Thanks to the mathematic marvel of compound interest, saving just a little today can pay for the big things tomorrow.
Figure out how much you can afford to save
Based on your budget, figure out how much you can reasonably put towards savings each month.
Know your monthly expenses
If you don't already have a budget in place, now is the time to figure out how much you need for your everyday living expenses on a monthly basis.
Throughout the course of this year...
Determine the goal for your nest egg
How much do you want to for your nest egg? A general rule of thumb is at least six month of living expenses. Adjust that for your own job status, lifestyle and comfort level.
Establish a savings plan
Select the date by which you want to reach your minimum goal for your nest egg. Then, calculate how much you'll need to save each month to get there. Adjust the amount or date according to whether the amount is realistic with your current budget.
Live within your means
You won't be able to save a penny if you're spending more than your making. Adjust your spending habits so that your money coming in is greater than the money going out.
Resist the pull of credit cards
Don't deny gratification, just delay it. Credit cards are a slippery slope and gambling your future earnings against having something now can come back to bite you. Buckle down and save to pay with cash. You'll enjoy the purchase much more knowing it's already paid for in full!
Throughout the years...
Don't absorb raises into your spending
When you are awarded a raise at work, raise your savings level to at least half of the amount your paycheck increases.
Review the amount you need periodically
As life changes, the amount you need in your nest egg may change as well. If you've purchased a home or had a child, you may need to bump the amount higher. If your lifestyle costs have decreased, you may be able to reallocate some of your nest egg toward another savings goal.
Use windfalls to increase your savings
Instead of spending your tax refund or other unexpected cash, put some of the money into your savings to advance you toward your goal more quickly.