If you only make one financial goal this year, make it this one

woman and piggy bank

I don’t mean to pry, but how’s that emergency savings account coming along?

I ask because a recent survey seems to strongly suggest that it’s not coming along very well at all.

Per GoBankingRates.com, 62 percent of Americans had less than $1,000 in savings in 2015. In 2016, that number rose to 69 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans with absolutely no savings rose from 28 percent in 2015 to 34 percent in 2016. That’s a problem.

Why is saving money so important?

Generally speaking, most people don’t save money because they don’t think they can. We have a limited amount of income and a sometimes seemingly unlimited number of expenses. Finding room for regular savings can be incredibly difficult.

Of course, having money available in reserve can be a life-saver in the event of an unexpected setback. But even if you never experience a single mishap in all your natural life, saving money can help you save even more money. Think about it.

When you save money, you can invest it. Even a simple savings account with a miniscule interest rate (which is unfortunately most savings accounts) can earn you money on your money. But if you work with a qualified professional and make wise investments, you can really grow your savings into a helpful nest egg.

By saving money you can also avoid buying things on credit. And while it’s important to use credit to help build your credit history, using credit to pay for things you can’t afford outright is going to cost you in interest. The bigger the purchase and the higher the percentage rate, the more you’ll end up paying. By saving money and making purchases in full, you can save a lot of money in future interest payments.

When you have money in hand, you’re less likely to overpay. Having money in savings always puts you in a more favorable position. By having money available, you’re more likely to be able to negotiate a better deal on a large purchase. It’s also much easier to avoid the kind of overly expensive purchases and loans consumers are often stuck with when they’re caught in an emergency and don’t have the necessary funds on hand.

Don’t overthink saving

If you haven’t been saving, don’t stress over it. Just start. Even a tiny amount every now and again can add up over time. To make it easier, you can automate the process. Most experts suggest saving 10 percent of every paycheck. If that sounds horribly unreasonable, try saving just one percent.

If you’re the sort that responds well to goals, set a savings goal for the year. If that makes it too easy to ignore, set a weekly savings goal. It takes less than $20 a week to reach $1,000 for the year.

Experiment with different methods. Experience with different amounts. Whatever you do, just don’t put it off any longer. The sooner you start sooner, the easier it gets. And once you’ve gotten a taste for saving money, you won’t want to stop.

Tagged in Goal setting, Budget tips, Savings accounts

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI. All typos are a stylistic choice, honest.