Almost 15 million people across the UK aren’t making any effort to save money just now, according to analysis from Scottish Widows. That’s almost a third of the adult population.
Of those who do manage to save, almost a third have less than £1,000 – not enough to pay the average monthly mortgage and council tax bill, which is currently £1,009.
Everyone knows it’s a good idea to save money, but clearly many of us struggle to actually do it. Most finance experts recommend having the equivalent of between three and six months’ worth of your salary stashed in an easy access account in case of emergencies, but you’re not alone if your pot falls well short of that.
But how could you save more? Here are some of the habits of successful savers…
1. They save regularly
You may not be able to save a huge amount every month but a small amount saved often will soon add up.
Some people find it useful to save money into a regular saving account, which requires them to pay something in each month, often between £10 and £200. Savers who don’t make a deposit will usually lose their high rate of interest so there’s an incentive to make a payment even if it’s just small.
[Related link: Open a top-rated savings account]
2. They save at the start of the month, not the end
It’s tempting to wait until the end of the month and save any leftover cash. But really successful savers set some money aside as soon as they’re paid.
That way they can factor their savings into their monthly budget and save a consistent amount each month.
3. They keep control of their spending
If you think you can’t afford to save anything, it’s worth taking another look at your budget to see if you can reduce spending elsewhere.
Really successful savers see their monthly savings deposit as a priority over more discretionary spending.
If you’re looking for ways to cut back, and wondering how much money that would free up for your savings account, there’s a handy tool available on the Money Advice Service website.
The Cut-Back Calculator shows you the monthly and annual cost of the things you pay for regularly, such as cigarettes or chocolate. The results can be quite alarming!
4. They actively manage their money
There’s no denying that the low base rate means banks aren’t paying savers much interest just now. Earning less than one per cent on your savings is pretty demoralising, especially when inflation is so high.
Successful savers are proactive about switching their money to better accounts so they can earn the highest amount of interest possible. Many accounts are boosted by a 12-month bonus, so it’s important to keep track of when that ends and be ready to switch to a higher-paying bank.
[Related link: The best-rated cash ISAs right now]
5. They have a rainy day fund
You might be saving for a number of reasons; for a holiday, to overpay the mortgage, to decorate the house.
But whatever your goal, it’s important to have an emergency pot of money that you won’t dip into unless you really need it.
Really successful savers don’t factor this emergency fund into their savings goals, because they know that they can’t blow that money on a dream break or garage conversion.
6. They clear their debts first
It makes no sense to be paying high interest on a loan or credit card, while earning low interest on savings in the bank.
Although it makes sense to save up an emergency fund, most people are better off clearing their debts before adding to their savings. Successful savers don’t waste money on high interest loans if they have the cash to clear them.
7. They keep track of their loose change
How much money do you lose down sofas? How much do you dump in a penny jar and never cash in? Money works harder in a savings account than it does sitting in an ashtray in your kitchen.
It really is worth emptying your penny jar occasionally. I cashed mine in last year and discovered £86.12.
And remember, if you saved an extra £1 a week out of your small change, rather than buying a magazine or a couple of bars of chocolate, that would add up to more than £50 a year extra in the bank.
8. They set savings goals
If you’re saving for a specific goal, then it’s a good idea to work backwards. Instead of deciding how much you can afford to save each month, consider how much you need in total and how quickly you need it.
Then you can work out how much you need to save each month to reach that goal, and tailor your other spending accordingly.
Really successful savers understand that setting goals can be really motivating.
9. They start young
There’s plenty of evidence that saving as a child helps you manage your money better as an adult. OK, so there’s not a lot you can do about that now, you were either encouraged to save or you weren’t.
But you can get your own children in the habit of putting some of their cash aside, even if it’s just their Christmas money. If you can teach them the benefits of regular saving, you’re helping them to become successful savers in their own right.
Do you save regularly? Share your tips with other readers using the comments below.