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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Getting on the savings track and staying on course

STILLWATER, Okla. – When it comes to saving a dollar or two, there are no shortage of ways to nickel and dime your way to a respectable wad of cash – save your loose change, brown bag your lunch, quit smoking, or cut down on buying specialty coffees, soda or other unhealthy snacks.

But, if you are intending to save some dough, how do you do that and where do you stash it?

“We tend to spend everything we make,” said Sissy Osteen, Oklahoma State University Cooperative resource management specialist. “The only way to truly save is to take what you’d be spending and put it into some kind of savings account. If you’re missing that connecting step, you’re probably not saving anything.”

No worries. If you have skipped that all-important step, there are numerous ways to get on the right track.
Start with a savings goal in mind.

“The goal could be anything from saving for a vacation to creating an emergency fund to starting a retirement fund to buying your first house,” Osteen said.

The other critical step in a successful savings strategy is figuring out where to put the funds you are saving. For many people, the easiest option is to open a savings account. It is especially simple if you already have a checking account.

Though interest rates are at rock bottom for traditional savings and money market accounts, there are higher-interest-paying accounts floating around out there, including some paying as much as 4 percent interest.

“The best thing to do is to ask your bank or credit union about any savings or checking accounts paying higher rates of interest compared to traditional accounts,” Osteen said.

Since these accounts will more than likely come with specific requirements such as direct depositing funds and using your ATM card a certain number of times, carefully review all the terms and conditions to make sure it will fit with your lifestyle.

The goal is to take full advantage of the higher interest rate without getting charged fees that may eat up the extra interest you’re earning.

For those who do not have a checking or savings account, prepaid debit cards could be a good option for holding the money you save.

“Use the cash you save each week or month to buy the cards then keep them in a safe place until you’ve reached your goal,” Osteen said. “You also can keep adding the amount you save weekly or monthly to the same card.”

One final thing to keep in mind: Once you establish your goal and begin working toward it, be sure to track your progress. Select a tracking method that works for you such as a ledger or bar graph, or an app on your phone or computer so you, can monitor your progress.

“Monitoring how you’re doing is so important because it tells you whether your strategy is working or whether you need to make adjustments,” Osteen said.

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Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

REPORTER/MEDIA CONTACT:
Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
140 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: leilana.mckindra@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000