02.01.2021 By Kia Young

7 Steps to Start Your Savings Journey

So you’ve decided that it’s time for you to get (more) serious about your finances, particularly saving. Great! This is a critical moment that happens for most working-class Americans, no matter how much money you’re making.

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If you have little to no savings, a great place to start is saving for emergencies.

If you have emergency savings, you may want to start saving for a home, retirement, or education.

There’s ALWAYS something to save for, but if you feel that you aren’t naturally “good” at saving, the idea of saving money might feel daunting. It could feel like a burden. Or like you’re giving up something concrete for something more elusive.

The truth is that we can ALL be great at saving! You have to start small, think big, create a reasonable plan, and recognize where you are in your journey.

In fact, we’ve learned that there are SEVEN key phases or steps to starting your savings journey and being successful.

7 Steps to Start Your Savings Journey

Step 1. Commit to Establishing Emergency Savings

Unexpected emergencies often sabotage our financial goals, so getting in a savings mindset and building an emergency fund is such an important step. Start small and think big by setting a goal of building a $500 rainy day fund. Once you’ve reached that goal, it will be easy to continue! Learn more about how veterans can get started saving for emergencies today.

Step 2. Take The Veteran Saves Pledge

Now that you’re committed to saving, it’s time to consider how you’ll achieve it. The Veteran Saves Pledge is a goal-setting tool that helps you make a simple plan to set and meet your savings goal while offering you long-term accountability and support along the way. Think of us here at Veteran Saves as your very own accountability partner!

Step 3. Open Your Savings Account

If you don’t have a savings account, now’s the time! Ensure your savings account is federally insured with a reputable financial institution with no fees (or low fees). Check out this Veteran Saves article to learn more about choosing the right account!

Step 4. Set up Automatic Savings

The easiest way to save is to save automatically! If you've transitioned out of the military and are now working at a civilian job, check in with your employer about setting up direct deposit into your savings account each pay period. You may also choose to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account at your financial institution.

Step 5. Get Serious About Reducing Your Debt

When you reduce your debt, you save on interest and fees while maintaining or improving your credit score! Create a debt reduction plan that works best for you. Utilize Veteran Saves resources to see the different options to pay down debt. In fact, you can start with this Veteran Saves article to learn about different types of debt!

Step 6. Get Clear Of Your Finances

Create a Spending and Savings Plan that allows you to get a clear view of your income, expenses, and anything leftover easily. Once you have a clear view of your finances, you can determine where to make changes and what else you should be saving for based on your financial goals. Getting a clear view of your finances is also important to do often so that you are always perfectly aware of what your financial landscape looks like. And as things change, checking in on your finances will help you stay on top of things!

Step 7. Repledge for Accountability & Support

Once you’ve determined what other short-term and long-term savings goals you have, take the Veteran Saves pledge for a new category to continue the receive tips, support, reminders, and tools to help you achieve your new savings goals.

Other Important Things To Note

Somewhere along the way, talking about your finances became taboo. However, studies have shown that people who talk about their finances with others they trust are more successful at saving. That doesn’t mean taking financial advice from everyone explicitly, but talking about your goals definitely helps!

Another exercise you can do to support your new savings journey is to create a self-tracking tool. You'll do this by putting your savings goal somewhere visible, where you’ll see it often. Visually seeing your goals gives you constant reminders that help you not only stay on track but also review your progress along the way.

Speaking of putting your goals in a place you’ll see them, feel free to print this resource out and put it in a place where you’ll see it often!

 The team here at Veteran Saves is here to support, encourage, and help you with accountability. Congratulations on your new savings journey!