Four Ways to Save for the Future, Even in a Bum Economy

By , Columnist
I think we're all probably on information overload thanks to the myriad reports and accusations flying around about this recession that we are/have been in. But it doesn't do to dwell on past mistakes, so let's start thinking ahead about how to make the coming years better for ourselves. Even if you're stretched a bit thin thanks to increased living expenses and debt payments, there are still ways you can save for the future and hopefully help cushion yourself the next time you get financially tripped-up.

  • Set up an automatic savings plan and don't mess with it
    • If you don't see it, you can't spend it. I know I get paid bimonthly, so I set up my high interest savings account to withdraw a certain portion of my paycheck each payday. I never see the money in my checking account, so I can't spend it or even lament its loss. Even if it's only $20 out of each paycheck, you could end up with a nice chunk of change after a year.
  • Open a high-interest savings account
    • I may sound like a commercial, but honestly, don't let your money just sit and do nothing. Let it sit in a high-interest savings account and earn more money! This is a far safer option (though admittedly the returns are less) than growing your net worth in the stock market. When picking a bank, online institutions are just as reliable as brick-and-mortar ones. Look for banks that offer high interest rates, zero fees, a certain number of or unlimited free transfers, and an interface you feel comfortable with.
  • Give up one vice and save that money
    • If you're a shoe shopping fanatic, decide to buy one fewer pair of shoes each month. Instead of driving long distances for your off-the-clock activities, try staying closer to home for a few weekends, or get your friends to come to you. Even if you don't give up an entire practice or habit, just cutting down can make a big difference. Any money you save that way, place into a high-interest savings account. You'll be shocked how quickly it'll add up.
  • Take advantage of your company's 401(k)
    • This is a particularly fabulous option if your employer offers some level of contribution matching. For instance, if employees contribute up to 6% of their paychecks to the 401(k) program, my lovely employer will match it. If you don't max out your contribution, that's like leaving free money on the table. Plus, 401(k) contributions are tax-deductible in the short term and make for a great savings option.

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Emmie Scott is an English major-turned-marketing exec, with a passion for writing, humor, sharing knowledge, and "pink drinks." After hours, she started Are Toe Rings Professional Attire?, a blog for college grads and twenty-somethings looking to find their way through that daunting labyrinth called…

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