It’s hard to save, but budgeting helps

Saving money is a losing battle for some 63 percent of adults who have less than $1,000 for emergencies, per bankingrates.com. It’s best to have $1,000 to $1,500 saved up for unplanned expenses.

For a nation of great wealth, we fail miserably at saving money. Recent figures show most people only save 4.4 percent of their take-home pay. Meanwhile, car repairs are the most common repair bill, at $500 to $1,000 each, according to a Pew research study.

The list of debts for the average household in order of expense is: mortgages, student loans, auto loans and credit cards. To put these costs into perspective, the total debt for credit cards in this nation, as of the second quarter of 2016, was $729 billion, per nerdwallet.com.

Many people faced with unexpected bills would be forced to place them on their credit cards, which now average $15,675 per household, according to nerdwallet.com. Credit card debt is increasing each year for most households. With interest on credit cards ranging from 13 to 22 percent, it’s easy to see how the average family spends some $2,630 in interest each year on just credit cards.

Only one in three families work with a monthly budget, but for the typical household, saving money can’t happen without a planned budget each month. Sticking to a written plan each month will help families be able to produce a savings fund.

Unfortunately, the cost of living has outpaced household income for the past nine years, and it appears that this trend will continue. Cutting expenses is critical to reduce debt.

Some common areas where people cut are cable television, multiple cars, landline telephones, buying a used car instead of a new one, adjusting the thermostat to save on heating and air conditioning, reducing eating out habits, and paying with cash instead of credit cards.

It takes dedication and commitment to cut expenses and save. With the cost of living currently out-pacing incomes, in this country, saving takes true dedication and commitment to be successful. We are continually tempted to spend more and more of our incomes each year through advertising. The decision to save is a full-time commitment, if you are to have a peaceful retirement.

Dean McFarland is a member of the Hancock County Council on Aging. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfieldreporter.com.