Please note this post contains affiliate links which help to fund this blog at no cost to you. Thanks for your support!
With early and continued exposure to personal finance and economics, kids today are growing up to be better savers, investors, and borrowers, according to the Council for Economic Education. The expectations are that they can and will make better financial decisions for themselves and their families in the future. But, then what about you?
If saving is just a matter of “education”, well you aren’t living on a remote island someplace, are you? It’s the 21st century and you are getting money advice from everywhere these days, so what is the problem? If saving money is just a matter of educating yourself, then saving should be easy. So why is it so hard?
It’s Not Only You Who Struggles with Money
Despite all the talk about “our booming economy” and the record-breaking stock market numbers, for most people money is now and always has been a huge concern. They say that “money isn’t everything”, but frankly it is pretty important (“money makes the world go’ round”).
Even if you think that having your health or your family or just being a “giver” like Mother Teresa means money eases that pain (and fulfills your duty), it doesn’t make the need for money go away. I guess it’s really how you let money affect you, your family, and your life that makes it either important or not. But the point is this one: even Mother Teresa struggled with and for money. So if your cousin Murray is doing that, he’s not alone.
Making It a Little Easier to Save Your Money Now
So I gave all this some extra thought this week. I wanted to break it down to a bunch of simple ways and rules that I follow and you can easily apply to yourself (assuming you’re making a living wage…systemic problems are a bit tougher). It’s not brain surgery by any means, even though I swear when I talk with people the act of trying to save even a few dollars seems like some very complicated procedure like brain surgery. And the moaning and groaning about it seems endless. Let’s try to do something about that right now.
Saving Money Tips
- Pay off existing debt! Think about this: if you can eliminate debt and interest you may be paying on it, all of that money can go towards savings. That’s a real goal and a real way to save for your future self.
- Create a monthly savings goal for specific things. Name them and spend only what you actually save on the goal.
- Spend time each month going over your personal finances and educating yourself by reading more and learning about it. You’ve already made a good start here.
- Stop buying on impulse. Go back after thinking about any purchases and ask yourself, “is it really worth it?”
- Make an effort to save $1 every day for a month, next month make that goal $2 and double it month after month. You will be shocked to find out how much you can save in just one year when you do it (spoiler alert, it’s over $2,500 bucks!).
- Open a new savings account and do odd jobs and side hustles to earn money to fill it up.
- It’s now the 21st century and banking has really changed. Check the interest rates at online banking and save 10 to 100 times the traditional banking interest rates right now!
- Invite friends over to cook dinner and have a game night or movie night instead of going out and spending your hard-earned money. Guaranteed fun and you save money, too!
- Split your paycheck into three no fee accounts: 1) for retirement, 2) for savings for emergencies and goals, and 3) for checking for your daily and monthly spending.
- Put aside a portion—even a small one—of every dollar you receive, including gifts, in savings.
- Stay out of the stores and malls just because you are bored and need somewhere to hang out. If you do, you won’t be tempted to spend.
- Always wait before making a major purchase. You may find you don’t really need the item at all!
- Before you buy anything, ask yourself: how will I feel about this purchase tomorrow? Will you still be happy about it or should you have skipped it?
- If you can’t afford something today, set this goal: you can buy it, but only once you’ve saved twice as much as it costs!
- Think about how long you’ll have to work to earn enough to buy something you want. For instance a pair of new boots costs 8 hours of work. Then ask yourself, “Are they really worth it?”
- Don’t be afraid to talk openly about the importance of saving money. Including your partner and family means everyone is on the same page.
- Leave the credit card at home most of the time when you are shopping. Paying with cash instead of with a credit card can help you save money because you will be more conservative and make better decisions when you only have cash in your hand.
- Know the difference between a necessity and what is a luxury, i.e., wants and needs. Just because “Fred has one” does not mean you should or can!
- Do an audit on yourself and see where your money truly goes. Then and only then can you make real adjustments and changes.
The Yada Yada of Saving Money Are Still the Cardinal Rules
Don’t pay an annual credit card fee. Don’t buy an extended warranty or travel insurance when you are already covered by your credit cards.
Cut back on going to restaurants by planning your meals and eating in to save, or if you do go out, use a coupon. Consider getting your local Entertainment Book. This book includes a lot of 2-for-1 deals at restaurants. It can pay for itself in just a couple of outings!
You can try switching your local phone to a VOIP provider like Primus or Vonage. For $30 you can have local, long-distance, caller ID, messaging, and all the other bells and whistles. It’s a much better deal than many of the traditional telecommunications providers. And…
There are dozens of more ways to save on goods and services that you use and buy every week that I and others often write about. This certainly isn’t everything you can do to save money, but it’s a step in the right direction to keeping more of your money so get serious and start right now, please.
Final Money Saving Thoughts
Saving is, was, and always will be no fun. Choosing to save almost always means opting for delayed gratification, and delayed gratification just isn’t fun.
Saving today is harder. As prices increase, we have less and less “disposable” income that can be directed towards savings goals. This has occurred in the face of household income levels that have been holding steady for years.
Credit became so accessible and most people have just resigned themselves to a false fact that debt is “acceptable”. Now the amount of debt for the average person has increased from about 28% to as high as 50% of one’s total monthly income. Why? Mainly because housing prices keep going up and lenders still want your business. That means making debt more accessible and acceptable debt more available to you and the problem with that is the more you owe, the harder it is to save.
Is saving hard for you? How much of an effort do you make to try to save money? How successful have you been? Do you have debt and if so, will you be able to pay it all off and build up you savings? When will it happen?