Ready, set, save! 4 steps to build your emergency fund

If you want this to be the year where you finally build an emergency fund, we have a four-point plan for you. Changing habits is notoriously difficult, but you'll be more likely to succeed if you set up your money challenge in a way that lets you score those victories sooner rather than later.

1. Get started: Two components to any savings plan are making it automatic and keeping an eye on your monthly spending. Opening a new savings account at Minnwest Bank is easy — and so is setting up an automatic transfer each payday. Start with an amount that is comfortable for your budget, whether it's $50, $20 or even $5. You can always bump it up later. Then set your monthly budget, because knowledge is power: If you know car insurance is due, you're much less likely to give in to your urge to spend extra money.

2. Reduce monthly expenses: Now that you have a savings account and you know your monthly expenses, it's time to focus on reducing your monthly expenses, so you have more to set aside every month. For starters, take a good look around your home for opportunities to use less electricity. Another easy way to save money is to call your service providers — cable, phone, internet, car insurance — and ask them to charge you less money! Politely inform them you plan to shop for better rates and ask what they have available for you. If you're winning big at the negotiation table, see if you can talk your way to a lower-priced gym membership or even a slight reduction in rent for your house or apartment.

3. Scrutinize spending: Are sneaky subscriptions dragging you down? Go through your bank statements and search for any ongoing expenses you seldom or never use, like music streaming, computer apps and even gym memberships. As for the ones you do use, take a closer look at your usage. If you average one or two uses a month, maybe it's cheaper to pay for individual sessions at the gym, or opt for digital movie rentals.

4. Now, focus on your habits: If you managed to zap a few monthly expenses, congratulations! Now you can build on these wins and look at some money habits you'd like to change. Maybe you’d like to spend less on coffee and dining out. Maybe you’d like to check your balance every day and see how it’s doing compared to your budget. Whatever it is, knowing that you’re already off to a strong start will give you motivation to make the changes stick.

We'll help you get to where you're headed. Whether you're saving for a big purchase or simply want the peace of mind, we understand that having money in the bank helps you feel more in control of your life. Automatic savings at Minnwest Bank will help you keep the momentum strong with no minimum balances and no monthly service charges breaking your stride. Contact us today and let one of our friendly community bankers help you reach your goals.

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