AS National Savings Month officially kicks off; First National Bank (FNB) encourages consumers to make a conscious effort to save more, spend less and work towards building a culture of savings in South Africa.Economic pressures, rising inflation and the relentless increases in day-to-day consumable goods continue to erode the purchasing power of consumers; pushing them further into debt and expenditure. “This creates significant pressure on South African households as they are forced to look for alternate means to finance their lifestyles and keep up with rising expenses. We encourage individuals, households and families to start saving early; as this will help them in the long-term,” says Himal Parbhoo, FNB CEO Retail Cash Investments. A great starting point for savings is to have a goal in mind; it could be a short, medium and/or longer-term goal. Short-term goals could be anything from saving for a holiday, deposit for buying a car, saving for a year’s rent, wedding or saving for unforeseen expenses or emergencies. “Emergency savings are a great way to ensure that you are covered in the event of a car accident, broken window or unexpected trip to the hospital. Ensure that you adequately covered, and this is reflected on your budgets. A rule of thumb is to have at least three months’ worth of net salary or wages saved to see you through tough economic times,” Parbhoo said. Medium and longer-term savings look at savings for schooling or tertiary education related expenses, additional income during retirement or even investments in other asset classes as well as off-shore. “We often tend to leave these types of goals for later...but we should start putting some money away for long-term goals monthly, rather than leaving it for later,” he said. If invested correctly, the interest received from savings and cash investment accounts can be attractive. Not only do the returns increase on the same capital invested, but if those returns are re-invested along with the capital, the compound interest helps increase investment growth at a faster rate. Another way to optimise returns is to save in tax free savings accounts, such as FNB’s Tax-Free Cash Deposits, Shares or Unit Trusts, where the interest and returns are free of tax.Building a savings strategy is a long-term process and is dependent on our life stage and age. “Saving should ideally be a priority for everyone and should be managed on an ongoing basis. It’s never too late to start on your savings goals. These goals will help you and your family in the long-term,” concludes Parbhoo. FNB offers a range of savings and cash investment accounts where you will not only benefit from attractive interest rates, but your capital and quoted returns are fully guaranteed, meaning there is no risk of losing your hard-earned money. — Supplied.