While inflation persists and recession rumors continue, it feels as though it’s harder than ever to stretch your dollar and keep your savings goals in sight.

Two significant ways to do this is to spend less and save more. Seems simple, right? However, sometimes the hardest thing about saving money is just getting started.

Whether you’re a millennial building a retirement fund, a family of four living paycheck to paycheck or a 50-something paying off their mortgage, these strategies can help you save.

Make a savings goal

To start your savings journey, setting clear and achievable goals is essential. Whether saving for a new home, a dream vacation, or building an emergency fund, defining your goals will give you a sense of purpose and direction. You can track your progress and stay motivated along the way by having specific targets. If you see a tax refund or a work bonus in your future, use part of that money to give yourself a head start.

To track how much you should save each month, use a savings goal calculator—there are plenty of free ones online. Mid Oregon offers a free online Savings Goal widget in Digital Banking.

To keep it interesting, set a small, achievable short-term goal for something fun beyond your monthly budget, such as holiday gifts or season ski passes (check out Mid Oregon’s Savers Club Certificates below). Reaching smaller goals—and enjoying the reward you’ve saved for—can give you a psychological boost, making the payoff of saving more immediate and reinforcing the habit.

Whatever you want to save for, set a goal and work toward reaching it.

Pay yourself first

It may seem unrealistic to talk about paying yourself first when facing many other financial obligations. Yet, while paying all your bills on time is critical, saving for your future can’t always take the back seat. Set aside a portion of your monthly income as soon as you receive it. Setting up automatic transfers is one way to make paying yourself a priority. Transfer a percentage to a savings or investment account when your paycheck hits your account.

Paying yourself first is one way to find room for investing and to prioritize saving for emergencies, retirement, and major purchases.

Automate your savings

One simplest yet most effective way to save money is by automating your savings. Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to a separate savings account. This way, a predetermined amount will be moved into your savings without any effort. It eliminates the temptation to spend and ensures consistent progress toward your financial goals.

Setting up automatic transfers with Mid Oregon is safe and simple.

Create a budget

Budgeting is the cornerstone of effective financial management. It lets you understand your income, expenses, and potential savings areas. Begin by tracking your spending habits and identifying areas where you can cut back or make adjustments. 

Begin by writing it all down—every dollar you spend. From the daily coffee to treats for our four-legged friends and monthly subscription costs, it all adds up. Writing down all your expenses, even those that seem insignificant, is a helpful way to track your spending patterns, identify necessary expenses, and prioritize the rest. Remember to allocate a portion of your income towards savings and prioritize it as a non-negotiable expense.

Mid Oregon offers a Financial Wellness widget in Digital Bankingproviding an accurate snapshot of your finances. Your transactions are automatically categorized, allowing you to stay on top of your spending and budget. See how much and where you spend, giving you control of your finances and access at a glance.

Pick the right savings account

If you want to build your savings, start with your local financial institution. Whether you’re hoping to maximize your returns or want flexibility for unexpected expenses, Mid Oregon offers a variety of savings account options that pay competitive dividends.

Share Certificates—Enjoy higher investment returns and keep your money safe and local.

Saver’s Club Certificate—Set your goal and the monthly amount you want to save. It’s ideal for saving for something special or not being caught short during the holidays.

High Yield Savings Accounts—Savings account with a variable dividend rate that increases as the balance increases (minimum balance $1,000).

Pay down debt

High-interest debt can be a significant obstacle to saving money. Prioritize paying off debts, starting with those with the highest interest rates. Consider consolidating your debts with Mid Oregon’s share-secured loans or credit-builder loans that help you leverage your savings for a better rate and an improved credit rating, helping you get better rates on loans in the future. Minimizing debt will free up more money for savings, relieve financial stress, and provide a solid foundation for your future financial stability.

Mid Oregon’s VISA credit cards have something for everyone. Whether you are looking for a card with a low interest rate for emergencies and special purchases, or it’s all about earning reward points on everyday spending, we have the card for you. Ask us about our no balance transfer fees!

Embrace your inner Scrooge

Saving often starts with spending less. Adopting a frugal mindset doesn’t mean living a life of deprivation. It’s about making conscious choices and finding joy in simpler things. Look for opportunities to save money by finding discounts, using coupons, buying second-hand items, or exploring free or low-cost entertainment options—most people can find things to trim from their budgets. Small, mindful choices can add up to significant savings over time.

Don’t leave your new-found savings easily accessible (i.e., in your wallet or checking account), where you’ll likely spend the money on something else. Instead, put the extra money to good use by paying down a debt or transferring it to a savings account where it’ll be out of reach.

Pass on unnecessary purchases

It’s easy to lose track of how much money you spend on items you do not need. It might be on sale or “fit perfectly on the table corner.” Keep in mind that these unnecessary purchases can affect your bottom line. Get disciplined by identifying your needs vs. wants. Do you need the newest smartphone, or do you merely want it? Think about giving yourself a 24-hour cooling-off period between the time you see an item and when you make the purchase.

Turning down something you want now may be difficult, but the reward will be more significant savings later.

Take advantage of your retirement savings plan

If your employer offers a 401(k) match, try to take full advantage of it or you may miss out on free money. Talk to your HR department to set up an account. If you don’t have much discretionary income, work with HR to find the “sweet spot” amount that will reduce your tax liability, but only have a small affect on your take-home pay.

Watch your savings grow

Review your budget and check your progress each month—this will help you stick to your personal savings plan and identify problems quickly. Understanding how to save money and watching your balance grow may inspire you to find more ways to save and hit your goals faster.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you feel overwhelmed with your finances, please contact us—our experienced Mid Oregon team can offer helpful insights.

Your savings journey is within reach if you approach it with intention and a commitment to simplicity. Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish. You can pave the way toward your short- and long-term goals by setting clear goals, creating a realistic budget, automating savings, embracing frugality, and minimizing debt. Remember, the small, consistent steps lead to significant progress. Start today and watch your savings grow!