A few months ago, I wrote a post about how much money you should have saved at your age, and it still continues to be the most popular. It seems as though saving is a topic that everyone wants to know about, but oddly enough not a lot of people are doing it. In fact, 20% of Americans have nothing saved at all. Zilch. Nada. Nuthin’. Sadly, I was one of those people.
There were tumbleweeds rolling through my account, and although I would have liked to save, I felt like I couldn’t. If I barely had two dimes to rub together, what in the world was I going to deposit?! So, I deposited nothing. Where did that get me? To Nothin’-Nothin’ Land while riding the I’m in Debt Express.
Truth was, I didn’t really want to save as much as I thought I did because I wasn’t willing to put in the work. After life slapped me in the face a trillion times, I turned “can’t” into “can”. I’ve gone from only being able to deposit $5-$10 here and there to having $200 from each paycheck withdrawn with ease. You can do it too. Here’s how to start saving money even when you’re “broke!”
What saving can do for you
Break the paycheck to paycheck cycle
If you’re eyeballing your bank account at 11:59PM, waiting for 12AM to roll around and unleash the flood of your direct deposit then Houston there may be a paycheck to paycheck problem. It’s a vicious cycle, often repeating itself generation after generation, and it’s hard as hoo-ha to get out of.
Saving money is your first-class ticket to getting off of this emotional merry go round. Having money outside of your paycheck allows you to finally get ahead financially and not rely so heavily on your deposits.
Pay off more debt/avoid debt
Oftentimes, when we’re in debt, especially credit card debt, it’s easy to get trapped in what I like to call the “yo-yo effect.” This is when you pay a portion of the balance but then turn around and use it up again. So, you pay and swipe pay and swipe. What good is this doing?!
I’ll admit it, this was me for years, but I finally realized why…I had no back-up funds AKA savings! Because I would make a payment and not set anything aside, if I needed extra money for an unexpected expense or because I made too large of a dang payment I was forced to pick up the very card I was trying to pay off.
When you save, you can confidently make a payment to debt while knowing that if something pops up you have other funds to help cover it.
If you have no debt, saving money protects you from going into it. Instead of having to take out a personal loan, borrow from your grandma, or run up a card, you have cash on hand to handle your biz.
Responsibly buy what you want
Wouldn’t it be nice to buy what you want and actually be able to afford it? When you save, you can treat yourself without all the extra guilt because you planned for it in advance.
Of course, one of the main reasons the importance of saving money is shoved down our throats is for retirement. No one wants to be barely scraping by as a senior citizen. We want to be on an island somewhere with our silk floral shirt rippling in the wind, coconut cocktail in hand. Yet, not many of us take saving seriously until it’s too late.
Common reasons you’re not saving
A “lack“ of income
“I don’t make enough!” I’ve said it. You’ve probably said it. We’ve all chanted it together, but what is enough? Do you really need to make six-figures to save? Umm, no!
I will always say that your income does not dictate your ability to pay off debt until I’m blue in the face, and it’s the same when it comes to saving. The act of saving is simply depositing a portion of your income into a designated account. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if you deposited $10, $50, $1,000 or a dang penny, saving is saving.
Whatever amount you are able to save right now is enough. Small contributions add up over time and one day you’ll check your account after all those $10 deposits and think hot damn! I’ve got $500 saved! I sure did.
Counting yourself out because of your income is not doing you any favors. When I started saving I was making under $20K a year, and I knew that if I waited for “the perfect moment” I would always see a $0 balance.
Living a YOLO life
I’m pretty sure everyone knows that you only live once. There’s no jumping off of a 12-story building expecting to stick a perfect landing because you’re going to go splat, but this mentality will have you living a pretty splat life.
Even though you’re irresponsibly handling your finances, slapping a “YOLO” on it seems to justify having $2 in your account but swiping your credit card for an $800 iPhone. So fetch to have your paycheck gobbled up with nothing remaining for you but crumbs.
Living a life in which you pay yourself first and don’t owe anyone a dang dime for what you have is the ultimate YOLO.
Fear of missing out
How many of you view saving money as a sacrifice? Be honest.
You fear that you’ll never get to go out on Taco Tuesday ever again and that you’ll have to live a boring, crusty life. Despite what you may have read or been told, that’s simply not true!
Yes you will have to spend in moderation so you’ll probably have to stretch your Taco Tuesdays to once every other week but you do not have to completely give up what you love doing to save if you don’t want to.
I love Starbucks. It feeds my soul and brings sunshine on a cloudy day (dramatic?). When I was ready to start saving, everything I read said give up your coffee trips so I did. The end result? I was in misery and let me tell you misery isn’t worth it.
So, I found a way to save and still take make a few coffee runs each month. It’s all about balance.
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How to get started
Alright, now to the fun stuff. Here’s a few tips to help you start saving money and make it an unconscious habit versus some painful sacrifice:
Set small goals
The larger the goal, the longer it will take to accomplish. When you’re starting off, you want quick wins to help you stay motivated and keep up the momentum.
Set a relatively small savings goal that you want to accomplish within the next six months and be as specific as you can.
How much do you want to save?
Why do you want to save this?
How will you save this?
Example: I want to save $700 over the next six months to help me buy a new laptop. I will save $700 by taking $50 from each paycheck and stretching my pedicures from every month to every other month.
Think supportive thoughts
You may be wondering what your thoughts have to do with anything here, but truth is, your thoughts are running the show. If you don’t think you can truly save then that will become your belief so in turn you won’t save. It doesn’t matter what new, fancy method you try, you will always wind up with the same result unless you change your mindset!
From this moment forward, tell yourself that you can save. Envision that padded savings account and indulge in all of those feel-good emotions that vision brings. It is those emotions that will cause you to take action to get the results you want.
Comb through your budget
When you want to really maximize your saving, look over your budget to squeeze out any extra money. Are there any expense that you can reduce or take off completely?
Don’t have a budget? Check out this Budgeting for Beginners post and grab my free budget sheet!
Start with small contributions
It’s easy to get overexcited and begin throwing back large amounts of money to your savings, but starting out big can lead to burnout. You’re suddenly forced to live without that cash which means there’s a greater chance of you withdrawing it right back out.
Start by saving only $5-$20 from your pay to give yourself time to adjust to being without the money. Once you see that your finances are stable, then you can begin to gradually increase your contributions.
Automate your savings
Automating your savings is the shiz. If you have no clue what this means, it’s when a percentage or specific amount is deposited into your bank account for you. It’s like having your paycheck direct deposited into your checking account, the transaction takes place without you having to manually do a thing.
This helps to ensure that you are actually saving, and when taken directly from your pay it makes it a lot less painful since you never saw the money to begin with.
Saving money is all about the strategy, not your income or how quickly you can stash cash. Go at your own peace and find what works for you. Need some extra help? Don’t forget to join my free email course designed to help you get started on your savings journey! Sign up here.