How to Save $1,000 in Six Months

Putting money in a piggy bank.

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

$1,000. A grand. One large.

No matter how you say it, it sounds good. Think about the sense of well-being that would come from knowing you had 10 crisp $100 bills tucked away in your wallet.

Everyone should have that feeling. But instead of your wallet, it may be better off sitting safely in a savings account.

Here are five steps to consider to get you going:

  1. Open a savings account. I wasn't joking about not keeping the cash in your wallet. My oldest daughter once took a detour by the mall on her way to the bank and left her purse — which held an envelope containing $800 she'd saved up — sitting on a clothes rack. Protect your hard-earned money: Put it in a savings account as soon as you start saving.
  2. Automate. Does money burn a hole in your pocket? If it's not there, you can't easily spend it. Thankfully, there's no way to set up an allotment to your wallet on the Defense Departments's myPay site, but you can send money to a savings account. And nearly all banks allow automatic transfers that can shift a little of each paycheck from your checking to your savings account. Five percent is a good place to start, but more is obviously better. If you're paid every two weeks, just $84 a paycheck will get you to your $1,000 goal in six months.
  3. Cut back. For a lot of you, there may be obvious places to reduce what you're spending. It could be meals out with your buddies, coffee, sporting events or gaming. The idea is to rein these in a bit to free up some cash. There's no need to go cold turkey — a few small changes can add up quickly.
  4. Cut out. On the other hand, some things need to face the scalpel. Eliminate trips to the casino, a tobacco habit or other types of unproductive spending to put yourself on the savings fast track.
  5. Capture your savings. Stashing money in an envelope or a change jar may not be the ideal solution to saving $1,000, but if that's all you can manage for the time being, at least it's a step in the right direction. Just try not to open your makeshift bank and fritter away what you've worked hard to save.

That should get you going. Once you get there, celebrate — in a responsible way. But don't stop with $1,000. Setting aside a grand is just a small step on the road to financial security.

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Personal Finance