Your savings cushion can be a trampoline to launch you into a new career or adventure.
With all of the unexpected twists and turns of today’s recession, keeping, much less replenishing your savings account, is a big challenge. But the uncertainty continues, and one thing is for sure: we are all going to need a solid financial cushion during the foreseeable future.
And instead of viewing our savings as an emergency fund, it’s more motivating to think about it as a freedom fund, giving you the financial freedom to explore new career alternatives or go on an unplanned adventure. Here are some easy ways to bolster your savings cushion.
The most painless way is to set up an automatic deduction for your savings account. When I worked for what is now Ameriprise during my 20s and 30s, I accrued what is now the bulk of my retirement savings through auto deductions directed toward my 401 k plan.
Avoid tax penalties on your retirement savings
Do not depend on your retirement savings for emergencies or financial freedom — unless you are willing to pay the consequences. I did this to try to save our home from foreclosure when my husband was out of work, and 40 percent of what I withdrew went to taxes – the 10 percent penalty, plus the 30 percent tax payment required by our tax bracket.
Trade your unused stuff for cash
Make a game out of getting money for your cushion by getting rid of stuff you don’t need. Craig’s List, Ebay, consignment shops and used book/music stores make it easy to get cash for stuff you don’t need or use. Put 70 percent of what you get into savings, and use 30 percent to reward yourself with something you want. After all, we have to stay motivated!
Follow the 70% rule
If you are fortunate to receive a windfall in the form of an inheritance or an unexpected tax return, etc., put at least 70 percent of it into savings.
Turn your financial cushion into a trampoline
Stay focused on the rewards of a solid financial cushion – not only will you be ready for an emergency, it can be your parachute out of an unpleasant work situation such as an unexpected new (and bad) boss.
A solid savings cushion requires discipline and motivation. Ultimately, it can be the trampoline that launches you toward your next adventure or career.