Only 23% of Americans in This Survey Can Make This Impressive Claim

by Maurie Backman | Published on Aug. 26, 2021

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A person standing at a picnic table in a park and putting a coin in a piggy bank.

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Hint: It's something all of us should aim to do.

Most of us know that saving money is important. Generally, you should aim to have enough cash in your savings account to cover three to six months of essential expenses. And if you can, you should also make a point to save for other goals, like buying a home or covering your expenses in retirement.

In a recent Personal Capital survey of people earning over $20,000 a year, about 23% said they always have money left over at the end of each month. But around 20% of respondents said they rarely or never have money left over on a monthly basis.

If you've struggled to save money consistently, there are steps you can take to change that. Here's how to join the ranks of those people who do manage to save each month.

1. Follow a budget

Without a budget, it can be difficult to know where your money actually goes every month. And without that knowledge, carving out room for savings can be challenging.

A better bet? Set up a budget that accounts for your various living expenses, including those one-off costs that don't pop up every month, like an annual professional license renewal. Then, make sure there's enough room in your budget to set aside some of your monthly income either in the bank or in another safe place, like a retirement plan.

2. Automate the process

It's hard to spend money you don't give yourself access to. If you want to ensure you can save some money each month, make the process automatic.

Find a bank that offers automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings so that some of your cash gets moved before you get a chance to touch it. Or, sign up for a retirement plan that offers a similar benefit.

When you enroll in a company 401(k), your contributions are deducted from your paychecks automatically. And if you find an IRA with an automatic transfer feature, you can arrange for the same setup.

3. Avoid impulse buys

Unplanned purchases can destroy your savings efforts, and unfortunately, they're rather easy to fall victim to. These days, it's difficult to enter a store without seeing a sale sign staring you in the face. Even if you do your shopping online, you may still be tempted by one-time specials that seem too good to pass up.

It's imperative to learn to steer clear of impulse buys so you can stay on track with your savings. A good way to make that happen is to follow the 24-hour rule. If you're tempted to buy something that wasn't on your shopping list, make yourself wait a full 24 hours before completing that purchase. Chances are, in that time, you'll realize that most of your impulsive wants are things you can actually do without.

Another good way to avoid impulse buys is to avoid storing your credit card details on your laptop and phone. That way, you'll need to make more of an effort to complete your purchases, which may be enough to prevent you from going through with them.

Saving money each month could set you on a financially secure path. If you're not doing that already, a few easy tweaks could make it possible to save more consistently and change your financial picture for the better.

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