Spring is springing and you know what that means. The changing of the clocks is upon us. And not the nice one in the fall where we get to either sleep a bit longer or stay up and watch that movie on Saturday night. No, it’s the one where we lose an hour, in the interest of saving daylight.
Yes, Daylight Saving Time is upon us. It’s time to spring forward on the clock. Which for me, as someone who is not a morning person to begin with, this is like adding insult to injury. There have been some years where I never really got adjusted to the change, and just had to wait it out until fall. The upside of DST is more daylight in the evening, which, I have to agree, is a nice thing about summer. It’s pleasant to be able to be out on the porch or doing activities while it’s light. It also decreases car accidents and crime. At one time, it meant energy savings on the whole, but anymore that’s not really the case anymore. In fact, Indiana did a study that showed, in many cases, it increased energy consumption, and so the argument has become to do away with it altogether, or to make it permanent. (www.nber.org/papers/w14429)
So it doesn’t really save daylight, it just moves it, and it doesn’t really save energy. One good thing is it has become the time to change the batteries in your smoke alarms. If only for that, it’s a good thing to have that reminder. Even though it’s a small change, it can make a difference.
Another small change that can make a difference is another kind of saving, and that’s saving money. When we counsel clients or teach a class about saving, people often think they need to put huge amounts into their savings in order for it to make a difference. They also often think that not being a good saver is a moral failing. Neither of those things is true. Clients want to make a good impression and so they tell their credit counselor that they are putting a good amount in savings, when in reality, they are taking most of it back out to cover the bills. It’s better to be realistic about what’s being saved than to try to make it look good.
What we say is to Pay Yourself First. Figure out an amount that works and set it aside right away at the beginning of the month or pay period. If we wait until the end and save what’s left, more often than not, there isn’t any thing left. Just like anything in life, saving is a learned skill. I’ll be honest; I’m not the best at saving. I have to really work at it and do a lot of self talk to get that money set aside. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me, it just is. But I do it. And I’ve learned to leave the money alone until I really need it.
The generally accepted goal for saving is 10% of income. But if 10% doesn’t work for you, then you start where you can. Any amount that you can put aside and leave it there is a good place to start. You can have savings for specific things, what we call “set aside savings” or to have an emergency fund. The emergency fund’s purpose is to be a safety net. It is a way to pay the bills and expenses if you have an income loss for whatever reason, whether illness, injury, or job loss.
Even if you start small, things add up quickly. So don’t think you have to be perfect or save huge amounts to make progress. One step at a time, and you’ll get there.
If you need help setting up your savings goals or working on a budget, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources can help. Contact us at 1-888-258-2227 or visit www.lsssd.org to make an appointment. We can meet face to face, over the phone or work with you online.
Written by Sylvia Selgestad, Financial Counselor and Educator
Photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com
LSS Center for Financial Resources
Consumer Credit Counseling Service | Housing Resources | Sharpen Your Financial Focus| Financial Fitness Education
705 East 41st Street, Suite 100 |Sioux Falls SD 57105-6047
605-330-2700 or 888-258-2227
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