Money & Career
Become a Master Money Saver
8/3/2017 10:29:14 AM

The moment the average person feels like they’ve caught up on bills and everyday expenses, their car’s transmission might go out, or maybe it’s time for back-to-school shopping. When we graduate college and get our first real job, we hope that living paycheck-to-paycheck is behind us, but for many people in Southwest Louisiana, it remains a reality. 

The Louisiana Association of United Ways’ 2017 ALICE Report shows that 43% of residents in Calcasieu Parish fall in the ALICE segment, which stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed. While it’s not the poverty line, this segment in our community can pay the bills and put food on the table, but if a big expense pops up, it becomes very difficult to make ends meet. 

"One of the easiest ways for families to create and sustain a safety net when hard times arise is to begin saving now -- even if it’s just a little,” said Southwest Louisiana Credit Union CEO Ronaldo Hardy. 

Putting aside a little money each month may seem like a no-brainer, but it is surprisingly difficult for families who have numerous financial priorities such as their kids’ health and education. 

"It’s easy to feel like there’s never a good time to start a savings routine. Every season of the year has its expenses, whether it’s back-to-school season, the holidays, or tax season,” said Hardy. "The important thing is to keep saving each month. It will add up and help out down the road.”

There are many savings strategies that may seem insignificant but can create a big boost in cash later.

Open a second checking or savings account. This will keep you from being tempted to use the money you’ve saved. A separate account may deter you from accessing it during dry times. Keeping your savings as intact as possible will make it easier to continue putting money aside. Also try automatic transfers from your checking to your secondary account. A savings plan on autopilot is a savings plan with a better chance of success.

Download apps that help you save. There are numerous safe and trusted apps that can help you easily save money and stay on track with expenses. Some apps even round up your expenses and automatically deposit the difference into your checking or savings account. That means if you spend $4.27, the app will deposit 73 cents into your account. 

Cut frivolous expenses now. You know that $6.15 triple-shot grande latte with soymilk you pick up a few times a week? By cutting that out and making coffee at home, you can save more than $950 a year. 

Make a spending plan for out of town trips. Vacations and business trips -- no matter how small -- can make you bleed cash. A simple three day weekend in Houston can turn into a spending spree. By creating a strict spending plan prior to leaving, you won’t be caught off-guard with expenses you may have overlooked, such as meals, gas, roadside assistance, hotel fees, etc.

Be sure to clearly identify your goals. Saying you’re just "saving for the future” runs the risk of you getting distracted from intangible ambitions. Concrete goals with time-sensitive milestones can feel more real and less intimidating. Putting a label on a savings goal, such as a child’s new school clothes or a new family car, can help keep you motivated to save towards your goals.

For more tips and ideas on how to save, visit or call Southwest Louisiana Credit Union at 337-477-9190.
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