Q: I am a single mom who makes about $28,000 a year. I try to save around $200 from my paycheck every second pay period each month, but it’s hard.
Do you think $200 is enough? And if I want to save more where should I start?
A: Even though $200 a month in savings might not sound like a lot to some people, you’re actually doing quite well on the savings front, given your salary.
Saving $200 a month translates into $2,400 a year, which means you’re tucking away about 9% of your $28,000 annual income.
That’s pretty good, so be encouraged about that. I know it’s hard to stretch a modest income, especially as a single income.
So if you want to save a bit more, start by knocking out some of the credit card debt you mentioned, namely that $3,800 Discover Card or that $380 balance you’re carrying on your Gap store card.
On your credit cards, pay two to three times the minimum payment required to more quickly eliminate those bills.
When the credit card debt is paid off, you can start putting into savings the money you had been putting toward those credit card debts.
Also, if your employer has a 401(k) plan or another retirement savings plan, make sure you contribute to it. You may be able to get a matching contribution from your job, which would add to your savings in a pain-free way.
Lastly, look at every area of your budget to see if there are areas where you may be inadvertently overspending, perhaps on food, goodies for the kids (i.e. clothes, toys, etc.) or even certain “luxuries” for yourself, like hair and nail appointments.
Don’t totally change your lifestyle just to save a few more bucks. But where possible, cut back on a few categories of your existing spending in order to keep more of your hard-earned dollars.