By Darlene Arechederra
Okay. So money doesn't really grow on trees. Unless you plant your own Mighty Money Tree, that is!
Imagine that only a few moments ago you planted a young sapling in your back yard. You gave it just enough water to ensure a good start. Not too much, not too little. You even propped it up with a stake. You'll continue to nurture it, feed it, water it.
And with each passing year, your tender young sapling will grow stronger. Taller. Healthy. As it ages, your tree can better defend itself from natural predators. Even harsh weather.
Growing your savings account is similar to growing your new tree. Given lots of tender care, your savings account will become your Mighty Money Tree. Use the following tips to ensure a great start. So, grab your shovel and let's get planting!
Prop Up Your New Savings Account
To build an account you can enjoy for a lifetime, prop it up with nutrients to help it grow.
a) Feed your account with bonuses. Deposit money saved through cancelled subscriptions. Don't forget those unexpected windfalls, either.
How about money owed and paid back to you? Be sure to include these amounts, even if they're small. Small is great -- and very do-able.
b) Nurture your savings weekly with money saved from using coupons.
Do you buy items on sale? Take that money you saved and use it to grow your account. Tuck small amounts into an envelope. Deposit weekly.
c) Shower your fund with birthday, anniversary or holiday gifts of money. Refunds, too! This is money you normally wouldn't have had (or already spent.)
Remember, out of sight, out of mind!
Fiercely Protect From Natural Enemies
Just as you might spray your tree to ward off insects or disease, you must protect your fledgling savings account. It's precious -- and a result of your patience.
a) Avoid spending too much time with others who make it seem *natural* to go through money. They may not give it much thought because spending is a comfortable habit for them.
But you actually have a plan. And you have the big picture of how and when you'll spend. You will decide the where and why of spending your money. Make your spending thoughtful.
b) Pace yourself as you spend your weekly allotment of money. If you run on $35 per week (for example), that gives you five dollars per day.
Stay just under that five, and you'll always be a few dollars ahead. You'll also be less tempted to tap your savings.
c) Practice *tough love* with chronic spenders who repeatedly borrow your money. Give yourself permission to state firmly that borrowing your money is *not* an option. Remove the stakes that prop up others' spending.
Say yes to protecting and taking care of your money. It will be there to support you, your family, and your true needs.
Promote and Maintain Healthy Growth
Small amounts add up big time, so keep money coming into your account on a regular basis. Keep it growing!
a) Remember *why* you set up your account. Know your balance at all times. Keep your eye on the bigger picture.
Will it help you pay for a gently used car, eliminating future car payments year after year? Is it your *freedom from working for others* fund?
b) Begin with one great strategy, and use it to create a steady stream of money to feed your account. Will it be a direct deposit through payroll?
Will you fund it by using only dollar bills, and setting aside all change at the end of each day? If so, scoop up your change and deposit weekly.
c) Each month, find a new, creative way to put more money in your account. Then find another method and repeat for a month. Keep the top three or four methods which seem to work best for you. Toss the rest, because you want methods that work for you consistently.
Need a starting point? Why not begin with spending ten dollars less at the store each week? Tuck your ten bucks into your savings account. It's simple, and it won't leave you feeling deprived.
Lastly, feel the wonder of knowing that your money tree will continue to grow. Like a faithful friend, it will remain at your side. Your champion in good times, a comfort in the rough patches of life.
It has the power to draw your dream out of the darkness and into the light. How long have you had that private, special dream? Only you can know.
Now, what would *you* do with your own Mighty Money Tree? Plant one today! Prop it up. Protect it. Watch it grow.
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