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SAVINGS PLANNED: Setting aside money not as easy as it sounds

Think about the last time you were scrambling to pay your bills, living from one paycheck to another and waiting for Friday to come so that you had the money for rent, clothes, food or utilities.

In the midst of this chaos, you probably asked yourself plenty of times one very important question.

Why don't you have any money saved?

That's the question that haunts those who are equally frightened by the idea of adhering to a budget or every time the phone rings and the credit card company or landlord is on the other end. Nothing is more nerve racking, disappointing and disheartening as checking out your checking account and realizing you have just enough money for your bills and nothing more.

How exactly did you get to the point where you're just making it?

That inquiry plays into the aforementioned one that asks why you simply can't save money. Finding the exact reason why could be as simple as buying more than you can afford or a time in your life when you went a little overboard with credit cards.

The most obvious reason why your savings account doesn't exist is simply because you haven't made having one a priority. That broad sentiment could be taken a number of ways; maybe at one point in your life you had extra money and choose to spend it on a new wardrobe, better appliances even though the old ones were just fine or that newest gadget you simply assumed you had to have.

Most people who struggle to piece together a savings account are the same ones who, when they have a few extra dollars in their pocket, choose to spend it rather than set it aside. Vacations, cars, furniture or anything else on your wish list likely attributed to the lack of funds you have at the moment.

One incredible bright spot when it comes to saving money is that you don't need much wiggle room to at least get started in the right direction. You could do something as simple as saving your loose change, spending more time in the kitchen and less time in restaurants, start selling things you no longer need or resign yourself to wearing last year's clothing line and saving up to 50% the next time you hit the mall.

The trick to saving is the ability to walk away from impulsive buying but also to just enjoy what you already have and refusing to unnecessarily upgrading. Exercising restraint within that spectrum of spending will score you your first glimpse at a savings account you've always wanted.


BABY STEPS: Small luxuries you can live without to help save

From a financial standpoint, nothing truly beats being able to have enough discretionary income to enjoy luxuries of life. But if your budget suddenly is broken, and you're looking for places to start cutting right away, these amenities might easily be the first to go.

Realistically, if you're in financial trouble, you probably are going to begin looking at what you're spending each month and see what can be eliminated at a moment's notice.

Obvious monthly bills such as your cable, internet, phone or cell phone bill deserve at least a second look in the event your channels, coverage or data plan could be scaled back until you get yourself back on track.

Beyond just the easy and evident places to start tightening the belt, you might want to think about how you spend your money as far as pampering yourself just for the sake of doing so. Those who have the ability and financial stability to enjoy manicures, pedicures, facials and hair appointments probably don't pay much attention to the final tally for the month from a dollars and cents standpoint, but when times are a little tougher and money is harder to come by, you'd be amazing to see exactly what you are saving when you say so long to those services.

Take for instance the simple manicure, roughly $40 per month. Compare that to a $10 bottle of nail polish, and you're en route to saving roughly $400 per year on just getting your nails done. Factor in a $70 hair color and cut every month, along with a $30 pedicure, and your monthly maintenance bill tips the scales at $140. That's nearly $1,700 a year that can be saved if you simply eliminate the majority of those expenses.

Have your hair cut and colored every two months, for example or perhaps that pedicure or manicure is something you can do on your own.

Beyond your hair, makeup and nails, you also can find other, smaller ways to save money where you might least expect it. What about that weekly $10 car wash you've been paying for, without even thinking that it's costing you $500 per year.

Some hot water, sponge, bucket and a $5 bottle of soap could probably last you most the spring and summer, and that's about a $10 investment for the span of six months. Compare that $10 to $240 in that same time period when you're paying someone else to wash your vehicle.

Often the easiest and most mundane and rudimentary acts of spending are the ones that get overlooked. No one truly wants to not have the funds to hit the beauty salon or keeping their car glistening, but more desperate money times call for the kind of cut back you don't necessarily want.

They are, however, the ones that you need.


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