What to Start Saving for in January

It’s January and many of our wallets and bank accounts are on the low side after Christmas.  But now is the perfect time to start saving for bigger things later in the year.

start saving in January

Throughout the year we often get hit with big expenses and we wish we had been more prepared.  While we can’t prepare for absolutely every situation that will come our way, we can put ourself in a little better position if we just start saving early.

Now, sometimes saving early might just mean putting ten dollars a week away.  That’s okay.  Something is better than nothing, right?  So just do what you can.

If you search for how to build an emergency fund the information you can come up with can be discouraging as “they” (the experts) will often say that you want to save at least three months, but usually 6 months of your income. 

While some may be able to do that, for someone like me who lives on a modest income with three growing children, it just isn’t feasible.  I’ve accepted that and I no longer feel like I am failing financially if I don’t have that much put aside.  You may be in a similar position.

2020, aside from it being a crazy year in general because of what has been going on in the world, hit our family hard financially.  A broken well, healthcare expenses and costs for my husband, time off work for recovery, broken down vehicles, and more just to name a few.  I’d have to say the past year has been our most expensive yet in the way of unexpected expenses.

We prepared as best we could and did have some money put away, but there was no way we could be prepared for absolutely everything that happened with us this past year.  However, it did give me a renewed sense of determination to put money away for emergencies.  It’s so important.

BUT – I want to say that life happens and even with planning you will still hit bumps in the road.  We were finally recovering from all our crazy mishaps, and my husband was back to work so the first thing I did a few weeks ago is start sticking some money in a fund.  This past weekend we had another big expense thanks to an emergency home repair so already those few weeks of savings have been wiped out again.  On one hand it is frustrating to have it gone to zero again, but on the other hand it is because of that money, even that small amount from a few weeks ago that I was able to manage another unexpected expense.

Now, if we could only go a few weeks without anything else breaking please…. 😉

But, emergencies aren’t the only thing you can be thinking about saving for in January.  Let’s talk about what you can save for.

WHAT TO START SAVING FOR IN JANUARY

Christmas

I know, I know.  We aren’t supposed to say the “C” word so soon after the holidays.  But here’s the thing – Christmas is expensive.  And if you only put away 20 extra dollars a month from now until December, you’ll have 240 extra dollars to contribute to your holiday budget.  Even if you can’t save completely for Christmas, saving a good chunk will help relieve the burden in December.

Home repairs

This can be for emergency repairs, or non-emergency.  Start saving now because if nothing is broken at this moment that won’t last.  Ask me how I know. 😉  Start a fund for those unexpected housing costs so that when something breaks you don’t have a panic attack not knowing where the money will come from.

Unexpected time off work

This past year we put away money because we knew my husband would be off for a surgery.  It ended up being longer than we had anticipated, but at least we had something. 

However, this was the first year we have ever done it.  It’s not the first time my husband has had to take time off work though due to injury.  After the surgery I decided from here on I would always work towards putting money away in case there was an unexpected illness or injury that prevents my husband (or myself) from working.  

Travelling or vacation.

Okay, so we’ve all been pretty grounded for almost a year now.  But that makes it a PERFECT time to save for a trip.  You can take your time and then when restrictions are once again lifted and the tourism industry is crazy busy again you will be able to go away because you’ve got the money.

Celebrations such as holidays or birthdays.

I have a fund where I put a bit of money away for things like Birthdays or holidays.  Now, I’ll be straight up honest with you, my fund often doesn’t have much – sometimes only 50 dollars in it.  But it’s better than nothing. 

It’s also a nice security to have because if we have a financial crisis such as any of the above things to happen around the same time of one of my children’s birthdays I can rest assured that I have at least a little money in that account to get them a birthday gift.

HOW TO KEEP TRACK OF IT ALL – THE DIGITAL ENVELOPE SYSTEM

If you are saving for a few things you will want to keep the various savings funds separate.  You may have heard of the envelope system which is a pretty successful system.   While it’s used mostly for regular expenses and not necessarily your savings, you can apply the same method to your savings accounts.

Basically, you are just keeping your money divided in various envelopes to help prevent you from spending money that isn’t allotted for that purpose.  So, you may have your savings money in an envelope marked “savings” that you know not to touch it except for whatever you are saving for.

The main problem with that method these days though, is that most people don’t regularly carry or spend with cash.  For myself I live in the country which means I’m not close to my bank and can’t always make it there to pull out cash.

That’s where the digital envelope system comes in.  I’ve created multiple accounts with my bank.  Online banking allows me to name each account.  So I have accounts that are named “Emergencies”, “Christmas fund”, ec.  This allows me to keep each savings fund separate.

Of course, you can totally just have ONE savings account and use it for all of the above options.  It’s whatever works best for you.

JUST DO WHAT YOU CAN

Don’t let this  list of things to save for overwhelm you.  You may only be able to save for one of the things on the list.  That’s okay.  Like I’ve said, some savings is better than nothing.  Or you may be like me and put the majority of your savings in an account (I recommend the emergency account) and only have small savings in other accounts (so for me, that’s the birthday and Christmas funds.)  There’s not just one way to save responsibly.

 

 

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