You likely already know it can be wise to save money every month. Whatever your income or age, putting money aside for the future can help you maintain financial stability and achieve your goals.
But how much of your paycheck should you save each month? Financial experts often recommend putting at least 20% of your monthly take-home income into savings for future financial goals, such as buying a home and funding your retirement.
Exactly how much you should save each month, however, will depend on your income, current living expenses and financial obligations, as well as your goals.
Here are some guidelines to help you figure out how much of your income you may want to set aside each month, plus some simple ways to jump start (or build) your savings.
Knowing What You’re Saving For
It can be difficult to know how much money you should save each month without having a sense of what you are saving for. Setting a few financial goals can also help motivate you to save, rather than spend all of your income.
There are some savings goals that can make sense for everyone. If you don’t already have at least three to six-months worth of living expenses stashed in an emergency fund, for example, that can be a good place to start.
Without a solid contingency fund, any financial set-back -– such as a job layoff, large medical bill, or costly home or car repair — can throw you off balance and cause you to rely on high interest credit cards.
Many people will also want to save for retirement. At the very least, savers may want to take advantage of company matches offered in their workplace retirement plan by contributing the maximum amount the company matches.
After emergency savings and retirement, goals may start to look different from person to person. One person may want to save up for a down payment on a home, another may want to save up to start a business, and yet another may be interested in college savings.
How Much to Save Each Month
A rule of thumb that is sometimes used in personal financial planning is a spending/saving breakdown of 50/30/20. Using this guideline, you would spend 50% of your take-home income on essentials (including minimum payments towards debts), 30% on nonessential (or “fun”) spending, and 20% on savings goals, including debt payments beyond the minimum.
To use the 50/30/20 method to determine how much you should save, you can simply calculate 20% of your monthly after-tax pay. For example, if you earn $3,000 each month after taxes, $600 would go towards savings or other short term financial goals.
You may want to keep in mind that your 20% savings goal can include the money you’re saving for retirement. You can determine how much you’re putting toward retirement each month by looking at your pay stub or electronic payment record. If your employer is automatically depositing money into your 401(k), you may be able to put less into savings each month.
While the 50/30/20 can be a helpful guideline, how much you should — and can afford — to save each month will ultimately depend on your individual circumstances, such as your current income, monthly expenses, and future goals.
If the cost of living is high in your area, for example, you may not be able to swing 20% savings each month.
On the other hand, if you make a significant amount more than you need to live on each month, you may want to put away more than 20%, especially if you’re working towards a large short-term savings goal, such as buying a home in the next couple of years.
Recommended: Cost of Living by State Comparison
Where Should You Put Your Savings?
The best account for building savings will depend on what you are saving for.
If you are saving up for retirement, for example, you’ll likely want to use a designated retirement account, like a 401(k) or IRA, since they allow you to contribute pre-tax dollars (which can help lower your annual tax bill).
You may want to keep in mind, however, that there are annual contribution limits to retirement funds.
For an emergency fund or other short-term savings goals (within three to five years), you may want to open a separate savings account, such as a high-yield savings account, money market account, or a checking and savings account. These savings vehicles typically offer more interest than a traditional savings account, yet allow you to easily access your money when you need it.
Easy Ways to Boost Savings
Below are some strategies that can help make it easier to start — and build — your monthly savings.
One great way to make sure you stick to a money-saving plan is to automate the process. You may want to set up a recurring transfer from your checking into your savings account on the same day each month, perhaps the day after your paycheck clears. Even setting aside just a small amount of money each month now can, little by little, add up to a significant sum in the future.
Putting Spare Change to Work
There are apps that will automatically round-up any amount paid on a credit or debit card and then put that little bit of extra money into savings accounts or even invest it. This “pocket change” can add up over time.
Using Windfalls Wisely
If a lump sum of cash, such as a bonus or monetary gift, comes your way, you may want to consider funneling all or part of it right into savings.
Or, if you get a percentage raise on your salary, you might want to boost your automatic monthly transfer from checking to savings by the same percentage.
Reviewing Your Budget
If you feel like your budget is too tight to save anything at the end of the month, you may want to review your monthly and habitual expenses.
You can do this by combing through your checking and credit card statements and receipts for the past few months. Or, you may want to actually track your spending for a month or two.
You can then come up with a list of spending categories and determine how much you are spending on average for each.
Once you can see exactly where your money is going each month, you may find places where you can fairly easily cut back, such as getting rid of streaming subscriptions you rarely watch, quitting the gym and working out at home, or cooking more and getting take-out less often.
The right amount to save each month will be unique to you and includes factors such as your financial goals, how much you earn, and how much you spend each month on essential expenses.
One of the most important keys to saving is consistency. No matter how much of your income you choose to set aside each month, depositing small amounts regularly can build to a large sum over time to achieve your goals.
Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.
SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.
SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.
Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.
Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.