When you’re struggling with expenses, putting some of your paycheck into savings can be extremely challenging. Here are three strategies that could help you hang onto more of your income and build up your savings.

1. Organize Your Personal Budget

A written budget is an indispensable tool for managing your finances and being consistent about savings deposits. Download a well-reviewed budgeting app that walks you through identifying and calculating all of your living expenses. Some basic line items will include the money that you spend on housing, transportation, and utilities. You’ll also have to factor in payments on outstanding obligations such as educational debt or personal loans. 

A budget is going to give you a clear accounting of your monthly spending power, so you can avoid making more purchases than you can comfortably afford. Be aware that budget-making may require a few approximations. You probably don’t spend the same amount of money on things like food or pet supplies every month, so creating those types of entries is a little bit trickier than it is for static costs such as rent or mortgage payments. 

To generate approximations for line items that vary, calculate averages by going through several months of bank and credit card statements. Going forward, your budgeting app will help you keep a close watch over how much you’re spending on variable costs. 

The process of making your budget will give you a sense of how much you should aim to put towards saving every month. It can also help you determine which type of expenditures you should try to tighten up on in order to maximize your savings. 

2. Get Rewards for Your Purchases

A credit card rewards program can help you harness extra spending power from all the purchases that you make. Getting an American Express credit card could qualify for you compelling incentives. 

AmEx offers several types of rewards. You could opt for statement credits that are generally between one and three percent of your total charges statement period. You might also qualify for a program that rewards you with points from partnering corporations such as hotels or airlines, so that might be a good option if you’re an avid traveler.

To make the best use of rewards programs, review offers discerningly. Be sure that you understand all of the terms and interest rates attached to specific cards. Also, make it a point to avoid carrying high balances on your cards. If you make big charges and don’t pay down credit card balances soon as you can, you might wind up accruing interest charges that cancel out the substantive value of the rewards that you earn. 

3. Be Savvy About Your Spending

One of the most important things you’ll need to do to start putting more money in the bank is to exercise more restraint about buying things that you don’t really need. Before you buy something that isn’t an essential purchase, you have to be certain that you’ve got your bases covered with every single line item in your primary budget, including line items for savings. Basically, saving with consistency means you have to be practical about distinguishing between wants and needs. 

If you splurge on an unnecessary expenditure, you’ll risk your ability to make regular payments on recurring expenses. Falling behind with your bills is going to make putting money into a savings account nearly impossible.

Late payments and delinquent accounts might also drag down your credit score, and that could compromise your access to meaningful financial opportunities in the future. With a solid payment history on every active tradeline in your credit report, you’ll have a better chance of things going your way when you apply for a low-interest credit card, financing for a new vehicle, or a mortgage.

Lastly, remember that you should never dismiss the importance of putting money into savings every month simply because you can’t afford to save as much as you’d like. Saving modestly is certainly better than not saving at all. Moreover, small deposits will gradually add up to a sizable sum in your savings account.