There’s a saying that goes, once the hard part’s over, then begins the hard part. The meaning is pretty basic: Nothing that’s worth putting hard work into maintains itself. If you put in the hard work of diet and exercise over time in order to improve your health and your physique, you are then faced with the task of maintaining the new you, or it will quickly decline back into its prior state. In the same way, your hard work reducing debt and saving money won’t count for much if you fritter away your hard-won savings once you’ve achieved your immediate goal. After the hard work of saving money comes the hard work of preserving – and growing – your savings.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to accomplish both is to take your savings out of simple, low-interest savings accounts and placing it in higher-interest accounts that have less accessibility. Even basic IRA accounts, CDs, or even Internet Banks like Capitol 360 offer higher rates than most savings accounts, and make it just difficult enough to access your money to ensure that you’ll keep most of it, because you won’t have instant access to it. Transfers will take a few days and carry penalties.
As a result, you’ll have to plan better for your expenses, because your savings will be too inconvenient to be an instant solution to cashflow shortfalls. This will not only teach you how to budget more effectively such as by finding the cheapest option for payment processing through cardswitcher.co.uk (Twitter, Facebook and Google+), but save your savings from plunder, allowing it to gather more interest and grow more quickly.
If your goal is to preserve your savings, or some portion of it, don’t be ashamed. The “cowboy way” of investing every red cent into high-risk, high-yield products isn’t meant for everyone, and there’s no one right way to approach things anyway. Why not split your savings and use some in aggressive investments and some in safer environments? Preservation is all about staying safe, which means low-risk, low-yield investments like bonds, CDs, and other insured accounts.
Your growth will be slow, but on the other hand you won’t have to weather the adrenaline-soaked ups and downs of more aggressive policies.
Adjust Your Lifestyle
Most people live slightly above their means, leaving them in debt on a constant basis. This is often subtle, because they don’t feel like they’re living luxuriously – but those few dollars over their income every month start to take a toll. The second mistake they make is that when they increase their income, they immediately increase their lifestyle and expenses. This is what leads people into a perpetual state of debt.
Instead, now that you’ve paid down your debt and put together some savings, play a little mental game and decide that you’re actually making half or two-thirds of what you actually make. It’s a trick, but an effective one. Just by ignoring a portion of your actual income, you’ll live within your means without any effort, and can put the rest into your savings. And if you do slip, you’ll still be within your real income by an easy margin.
Creating savings is one thing – for it to mean anything you have to hang onto it for the long haul. Play the long game – and whatever mental game you have to in order to preserve your nest egg.