Saving - How to save & set up a savings plan

One of the best habits we can get into is 'paying ourselves first' and making it automatic by setting up a savings plan. The more we get into saving money, the easier it is to achieve our goals and get ahead. In most cases, it’s cheaper to save for things – a phone, a car, a holiday – than to go into debt to buy them. Saving for the future also gives us more options later on and keeps us prepared for anything unexpected. 

Setting realistic saving goals

Serious about saving? Then it’s important to set realistic goals. Savings plans often don’t succeed because we’re too ambitious. There are lots of ways we can be tempted to break our grand plan – and even falling off the wagon just once means it’s that much easier to ignore the master plan the next time around.

 It's a good idea to leave a little bit of room in the budget (remember the days of pocket money?). That way we can have the occasional splurge without sacrificing our hard-earned savings.

It’s simple to work out a realistic savings plan with our budgeting tool

Starting small and sticking to a plan

 Learning to be a regular saver is a giant leap towards having enough money for the things we want. Here’s how to save and get started:

  • Work out some savings goals – whether it’s buying a house or going on holiday.
  • Start saving now – the sooner we start, the sooner we’ll get there.
  • Have a clear plan to keep the savings on track.

After coming up with a few savings goals, our savings calculator helps work out how to get there as fast as possible and how much to set aside for a savings plan.

Keep it simple, set realistic goals, and watch the money grow.

Paying ourselves first

Before all the other bills and other expenses get paid each month, we can save money by “paying ourselves first”. Setting up a savings plan this way makes it much easier than trying to save whatever’s left over at the end of the month.

Even just small amounts can make a big difference and get us ahead.

Paying ourselves an amount that works for our budget is one of the easiest ways to get saving. And by making it automatic, chances are we won’t miss the money as it grows in its own separate account.

How to save by making it automatic

Once you’ve worked out how much you can afford to save, it’s time to set up an automatic payment so the money goes into your savings account on pay day.

Or you can ask your employer to set up a salary deduction so the money goes directly from your pay into your savings account or retirement fund, rather than your regular bank account.

KiwiSaver and other workplace savings schemes work this way – our contributions come out of your pay before you see it. And what you don’t see, you probably don’t miss!

Case study: Ondine Grace

Ondine Grace has to pinch herself sometimes when she realises that she has bought her first home in Dunedin at just 20 years old. Her friends are astounded.

Read more


Opening a savings account online

Setting up a savings account online can take as little as five or ten minutes, but there are different kinds of accounts to choose from. Generally you'll want the one that earns the highest interest and charges the lowest fees. Some savings accounts require you to keep a certain amount of money in them, and some have set-up costs.

Interest and fees information on can be found on each bank’s website. Or compare interest rates and savings account details at

Saving an emergency fund

It's a good idea to put money aside for emergencies. Ideally we should aim to save up the equivalent of three months’ expenses – but every little bit helps when life throws curveballs our way, like big bills on the car, a job loss or unexpected illness.

When setting up a savings plan, keep that 'rainy day' fund separate from savings and everyday accounts. 

Saving for retirement

Saving for when we’ll eventually stop working is easy to put off. But retired people who are now enjoying the benefits of their own savings will say that starting a regular savings plan early was one of the best decisions they ever made.

KiwiSaver is an easy way to save for retirement. It can also help us save for a first home.

See our Guide to retirement planning and Guide to KiwiSaver, and try our retirement planner tool.

Don’t know where to start?

Check out our 6 steps Get Sorted program to get you on track.

Head to the 6 steps