Sticking to a spending plan and avoiding impulse buying is crucial for building a healthy savings plan. Create a simple budget that shows you how much money you are bringing in and helps you understand your monthly spending. Add up all of your expenses that you would consider a need — this includes your monthly savings amount, rent, car payment, cable and internet bill, food, etc. (By including your savings amount in your need category, you create an automatic savings plan for yourself — more on that below.) Subtract that total from your income, and what is left over is your free cash flow.

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The remaining money is the amount you have at your disposal for your “want” expenses. At the very least, make sure you are not spending more than that. At the end of the month, if you still have money left over, stick it in your savings or investment account. This removes the temptation to spend it and lets you start the next month fresh again. If you consistently have money left over, increase your savings amount.

2. Set up automatic savings

Creating a consistent savings mechanism will ensure you are saving a minimum amount each month or paycheck, making progress toward your longer-term goals. Whether you are saving into an investment account or your bank savings account, set up an automatic contribution from each of your paychecks so that the money is “out of sight, out of mind” and you won’t be tempted to spend it.

Why is this so important? Without having an automatic savings plan, you could be saving $500 one month and then $0 the next. Although this is better than not saving at all, it is not a good practice to adopt. And remember, you can start small. Even if it’s $100 a month, saving consistently will pay off immensely down the road.

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