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Little by Little: Growing Your Savings in the New Year, by Lyman Howell

Randi Craigen - Tuesday, January 08, 2019

A YouGov poll revealed that some of the top New Year’s resolutions are:

  • eating healthier (37%),
  • exercising more (37%), and
  • saving (more) money (37%). [1]

Saving money is an excellent goal. An ancient wise saying from East Africa says, “Hurry, hurry has no waiting, little by little fills the measure.” This means that saving in a regular, systematic manner can be fruitful over the long-term. Another great proverb is, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.” (Proverbs 13:11, NIV) If we want our money to grow, we should earn it in an honest way, and we should save little by little over time.   

What steps can we take this new year to increase our financial resources? Here are some tips:

Save for emergencies. Something will always happen that can throw you off track from accumulating savings. You might have an unplanned medical emergency, car repair, lose a major client, or get laid off. A great goal is to build up emergency savings to cover 3-6 months of expenses. Put these dollars into accounts that are safe and secure. If you are young and in good health, you might also consider whole life insurance as an alternative tool to build up cash. You can borrow against the cash value in those policies for emergencies.

Live below your means. Think about ways to spend less on a monthly basis that you earn. In the best seller, The Millionaire Next Door (Stanley and Danko), a significant number of millionaires have simple lifestyles and tastes. They did not spend too much for a car or a house.  They prefer inexpensive clothes. Living below your means helps to free up funds for savings.

Automate your savings programs. Determine how much you will save on a monthly basis, and then make it automatic. By taking this step, you make only one decision for a ten-year period instead of 120 monthly, individual decisions.

Save for retirement. If you are an entrepreneur, set up retirement accounts for you and your employees.  Find out what retirement plans are available where you work. If you own a business or work for a business, it there a 401k-retirement plan? If you work for non-profit organization, is there a 403b or 403b (7)-retirement plan? If you work for the government, is there a 457-retirement plan?

You can also save for retirement using Roth or traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs).  The Roth IRA is a really great vehicle. You can put in after-tax money, let it grow tax-free, and then eventually withdraw funds tax-free. Some businesses have started to set up Roth 401k plans for the owner and employees. With all of your retirement accounts, you should review your beneficiaries annually. With proper use of beneficiaries for IRAs, you can build up wealth for future generations.

Costs matter. With your retirement savings and other investment programs, the costs you pay for fees and expenses are critical. Investments with high fees and expenses can significantly erode the value of your long-term savings. Choose financial institutions that have lower fees and expenses.

How much should you save for your goals? This depends on a number of factors including your personal financial information, other family data, short-term goals and long-term goals. A great way to address this question is to develop a financial plan. Regardless of this process, it is critical to start saving something, even initially a small amount. You can increase your regular, savings in the future when your income increases.

Best wishes as you implement your goals for 2019!

Lyman Howell, MBA, CFPâ is the President of Regal Oak Financial, LLC,, a Registered Investment Advisory Firm in Illinois. His firm provides financial planning and investment advisory services.


[1] “The Most Common New Year’s Resolutions for 2018”, Martin Armstrong, Jan 2, 2018

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