Take these 3 steps to start saving now, consumer watchdog director Kathy Kraninger says

Personal finance

Emergencies occur.

So, it makes sense to start putting money aside. Yet many Americans aren’t.

In fact, 28% of Americans have no emergency savings, a July survey from personal financial website Bankrate.com found.

“Financial emergencies will happen, it’s only a matter of when,” said Kathy Kraninger, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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To help empower people to start putting money aside, the agency launched its “Start Small, Save Up” initiative in April.

“Some experts suggest saving three to six months’ worth of expenses, but you can also start with a smaller savings goal and work your way up,” she said.

These are three steps you can follow to get started, according to Kraninger.

1. Choose your goal

Jamie Grill | JGI | Getty Images

The first thing you need to do is figure out the savings goal that is right for you.

How much do you want to put away each week or month? Even $5 or $10 a week is a good place to start.

Then, think about your ultimate goal and what you are saving for. Do you want to save $500? Three to six months of living expenses?

2. Assess your trends

Take a look at how you are spending your money every month and see if any trends or patterns emerge.

“There might be places where you can cut spending or increase your income to help make your goal more attainable, Kraninger said.

Some experts suggest saving three to six months’ worth of expenses, but you can also start with a smaller savings goal and work your way up.

Kathy Kraninger

director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

3. Create your rule

You may hear things like 5% of your take-home pay should go to short-term savings and 15% of your pretax income should be put towards retirement.

However, everyone’s situation is unique — so try not to get discouraged.

Instead, look at the goal you’ve set, see where you can cut back and create the savings rule that works for you.

It should be “realistic, actionable, and will help you achieve your goal,” said Kraninger.

The bottom line

Always keep in mind that if you get some extra money, such as a tax refund or overtime pay, try to add it to your savings.

When it comes to your savings rule, “what’s most important is that it is something you can stick with,” Kraninger said.

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