You’ve always heard it’s important to save as much as you can, but what does that really mean? Realistically speaking, saving can be hard once your paycheck hits your bank account. Bills, necessities, and extra wants may slowly diminish your hard-earned check. If you struggle with paying into your savings first, you’re not alone. It turns out, 59 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and 65 percent don’t know how much they spend on a monthly basis. Yet, for those who always preach the value of saving, how much of your paycheck should you save?
Setting your savings goals too high could deprive your emergency funds and other savings accounts, yet saving too little could hinder your investments. If you want to retire early, start your own business, or buy a house, your savings account is a key ingredient. To find your ideal savings goal, keep reading or skip to one of these sections:
How Much Should You Save Each Month?
Based on the 50/30/20 rule, 20 percent of your income should go to savings and retirement. The remainder of your paycheck is then divvied up between necessities and wants, with 50 percent going towards necessities, like rent, and 30 percent towards your wants. While you should always put 20 percent of your income towards debts and savings, try saving upwards of 30 to 50 percent. You may never know when extra savings could come in handy.
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How Much to Save for Every Goal
After putting 20 percent of your income towards savings each month, you may increase your payments to reach bigger financial goals. For instance, if you’re wanting to buy a house in the next year, you may want to save extra to meet that goal.
1. For Emergencies
If your tire blows out or your roof starts leaking, you may need some extra cash to get you back on your feet. Typically, you should have at least three to six times your monthly income stored in your emergency fund. If that seems like a lot, set a smaller goal at $400–1,000 to get you started. Keep in mind, this can fluctuate depending on your lifestyle and goals.
2. For Retirement
Years down the line, you’ll be grateful for your generous retirement savings. As a general rule of thumb, you should allocate 15 to 20 percent of your income for retirement. Retirement accounts include a 401k, Roth IRA, or an employer investment match account. Set up automatic payments each paycheck to ensure you’re setting your future up for success.
3. For Investing
If you have extra financial flexibility, consider upping your investments to reach 10 to 15 percent of your income. Low-risk investments, index funds, and bonds are a few investment options. Before making an investment, evaluate which purchase could benefit you and your bank account most in the long run. Keep your investment time horizon and risk tolerance in mind, too.
4. For a Big Purchase
When you’re saving for a big purchase, start by breaking down your savings goals. Sit down and write out your top savings goals and what steps you need to take to reach them. Are you wanting to save for college or buy a new car? Put those goals in motion by creating specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive (SMART) action plans to get you there.
Where Should You Put Your Savings?
Different savings goals may fit different savings accounts. Long-term savings (5–10+ years) typically benefit you the most in investment and retirement accounts. Short-term savings (0–5 years) may be better suited for general and high-yield savings accounts. Strategically planning out your savings goals can help you maximize your investments and avoid penalties.
- Checking account: A checking account normally doesn’t have any growth opportunities. These accounts are used for everyday purchases like your rent, WiFi, and groceries.
- General savings account: A general savings account has, on average, a 0.01 to 0.08 percent growth APY. These savings accounts are normally used for emergency funds and short-term savings goals. These accounts are easily accessible in case of an emergency and help grow money that’s not being used.
- High yield savings account: These accounts are best for short-term savings. On average, high yield savings accounts have a one percent APY, one of the highest savings account APRs. This helps you maximize your contributions while remaining flexible for quick access.
- Contribute to your 401K or investments: Investing in your 401K sets you up for retirement. 401K contributions have the potential to grow your investments by 14.2 percent and lower your monthly taxable income.
What If You Can’t Save as Much as You Want To?
You may wish to save your whole paycheck, but everyday expenses like rent and groceries are common necessities. Whether you’re saving for a house or your emergency fund, save what you’re able to. Below are a few ways to make room for your savings goals:
- Budget for your lifestyle: Sit down and see where your money’s going. Highlight unnecessary expenses that could be cut out of your budget. Instead of getting takeout coffee every day, treat yourself to a weekend coffee to spare your budget.
- Make a change jar: Dig for a jar or old cup in your kitchen. Set it on your counter and tape a paper “Savings” label to the front of it. Every time you have spare change or a five dollar bill, add it to the jar. Take your jar to the bank each month to see what extra savings you rounded up.
- Practice a frugal mindset: Evaluate your life to see what you could do away with. Do you still have that extra chair taking up space in your living room? Post it online to see what extra money you could earn and what stress you could alleviate.
- Pay savings, then yourself: Set up automatic payments to your savings on payday. After a while, you may treat this budget adjustment like a regular bill that needs to be paid each month.
- Diversify your income: Creating different revenue streams provides a safety net for any money sources that dry up. If you have extra time to spare each month, consider starting a passive income project. Creating a YouTube channel or blog are just a few ways to invest time into your passion and diversify your income.
Even though saving can sometimes be hard to start, it’s one of the key factors of living a financially free lifestyle. Whether you’re wanting to leave your high-stress day job or retire early, your savings is what gets you there. The amount you should save each month should be no less than 20 percent of your income. Yet, if you have bigger goals, you may want to save more. Download our app to set your savings goals and ensure you stay in-tune with your progress.