Saving money is not always easy unless you are like me and others that are genetically bent to be miserly. I have been saving money ever since I had my first job. Earning about $32/week working a summer youth program job. I saved almost every dime from the first to the last check. I just figured I could buy more when I had more money. My reason for saving has always been rooted in saving for a rainy day. I have spent my entire life encouraging everyone I know to save. Never understanding when they say to me “Why Can’t I Save Money” like you. Here are 10 reasons you can’t save money and my succinct response to that question.
Why can’t I afford to save money
Most people cannot afford to save money because they do not watch their income versus their spending. If you are spending before your expenses are covered you are in trouble. I remember when I was young and would get my check and run to the store to buy, buy, buy regardless of cost. However, those days are long gone and replaced with a mortgage, utilities and, other household expenses. It is called adulting and I had to grow into this new role as I aged up.
To be a responsible adult I needed to review my income and my expenses before heading to the store to buy, buy, buy. Learning to live within my means required me to be frugal and to weigh the cost of an item before making the purchase. It required me to shop around for the best price, to price compare. Making a wise choice about the cost will always save money. More money I can save.
You Do Not Have A Budget That Includes Saving
Saving money starts with a budget. You have to tell your money where you want it to go. A budget does that for you. I am going to spend this amount here. I am going to save this amount for this. It is really easy to set this up. The hardest part is to make it happen.
For years I kept a copy of my budget with me. I would print it out and consult it weekly. It was really important to me that I spent my money the way I planned it all out. I wasn’t always rigid with it and did overspend from time to time. However, for the most part, I stayed on budget. Especially, when it came to saving. I had goals to meet and there was nothing that was going to stop me from saving. I had no backup plan. My savings was the only backup plan. Borrowing from friends and family was never an option for me.
Hence, the biggest disadvantage of not saving was not having anyone to go to help pay bills. If we lost our jobs or had an unexpected expense it would be a problem. The consequence of this is that you will have to go into more debt with a credit card or loan. Besides, we always felt borrowing could lead to a strain on any relationship If you are unable to pay back.
Why Can’t I Save Money – You Have Too Much Debt
If you can’t save you might have too much debt draining your income. Today is the day to get rid of it. Start a debt payoff budget by making a spreadsheet of all your credit balances and loans. Using the snowball or avalanche methods begin to pay off your debt. Once you have it all mapped out you can see when and how you will be out of debt. Here is a free Debt Reduction Calculator that includes Excel and Google Sheets downloads from Vertex42.com. It is a great tool to use for figuring out how long it will take to pay off your debt. It also has a short 5-minute video tutorial.
I would plan to be out of debt within 2 years. However, do not get discouraged if it takes a little longer. You may have to be aggressive by allocating at least 15% to 25% of your income to make this happen. Once you can see it, like me, you will be able to see the possibility of being debt-free. Just think of all the money you can save once your debt is paid off.
You Have Student Loan Debt
Student loan debt should be part of your debt payoff plan. The bad news here is that it takes about 10 years to pay off student debt. However, this is primarily based on how much you borrowed, what type of job you have, your earnings, where you completed school and, your degree. For those that did not complete school paying off student loans could take even longer as their job situation may not be optimal. Another factor to consider is the amount of any other additional debt and your living expenses.
If you can live at home for a while and earn a decent salary you can pay it off sooner. My son was able to pay off his student debt within 3 years. He lived at home and we were able to pay a portion of it for him. Everyone is not so fortunate as I like to remind him as often as I can.
There is currently a great deal of talk regarding student loan forgiveness. Until something is in writing I would not bank on this and continue to make payments. Needless to say, as soon as you get your student loans paid off the more money you will have to save.
Why Can’t I Save Money – You Are House poor/Renter poor
Living in a house too big with large utility bills will always drain your wallet. Look to downsize if you can and sell your extra stuff to help pay off your debt. Same with renting. Do you need all this space? Would a 3 bedroom apartment fit your needs versus a 4 bedroom apartment? Opt for less space again as more is not necessarily better.
You Have too Many Unnecessary Bills And Subscriptions
We are all guilty of signing up for a service only to forget all about it. Then, before we know it we are occurring monthly expenses on our credit cards. An easy fix for this is to review your credit card statements for these pesky charges. Eliminate all those unnecessary subscriptions that you don’t use. No sense in paying for items you are not using.
Another thing I like to do is review the cable bill and other bills to see where I can reduce cost. This only takes a minute and a phone call. Cancel any bill or service you can do yourself. Such as mowing your lawn or spraying for bugs. Go over each bill line by line and redline anything that is not necessary. I found there was a lot of padding on our cable bill. One day we will cut the cord for less expensive services once we figure out how to still watch football, baseball, and basketball live under one service. Regardless, do not let unnecessary bills be the reason you can’t save money.
Why Can’t I Save Money – You Shop Too Much
Deciding the difference between a want and need is the beginning of understanding your spending patterns. I have 5 pairs of black shoes for what I believe is for every occasion. Do I need another pair? No. Would I like another pair? Heck yes, they are super cool and I can see them with various outfits. The reality is I do not need another pair of black shoes. This is a want over a need. Hence, when shopping I am constantly doing a want over a need analysis. Many purchases are emotional so be mindful of your state of mind.
We tend to want to reward ourselves with “want” types of purchases. Yes, I deserve new shoes but not at the expense of going broke. It is okay to reward yourself as long as it is within the confines of your budget. Set up designated shopping times when you have accumulated funds earmarked for such expenses as clothes, shoes, bags, etc.
Also, I had to learn to buy what was needed first versus what I thought I wanted to reduce my shopping. More is not always better when you need to stay on budget.
Why Can’t I Save – You Eat Out Too Much
Eating out is always enjoyable. There is nothing like someone cooking your favorite foods and serving them to you too. However, this can be a very expensive convenience. Even eating fast food can be expensive if you frequent them too many times. It is always cheaper to eat at home especially leftovers. To me, food always tastes better the 2nd time around.
I love preparing foods that my Mom and Dad use to make. I also enjoy eating food prepared by my husband. Together we bring a different way of preparing the same meal. There are sometimes subtle nuances that can change the flavor or presentation of the meal.
Lastly, have fun learning to cook for free. There are many cookbooks, Youtube videos, Pinterest pins where you can learn fun new recipes. You can learn how to cook from friends and family. When my grandmother was alive, I called her many times for help. She had the best recipes and it was fun to learn from her. It brought us closer while also showing me why I can save money.
You Need To Learn To Pay Yourself First
The easiest way to save is to set up auto deposits. Pay yourself first each payday or each week with auto transfers from checking to savings. Anyway, you set it up doesn’t matter as long as it is automated. Set it and forget it and watch the balance increase every week. As an added precaution, I never activate any debit cards associated with my savings account. Just way too much temptation to hit the ATMs. So, take pride in your savings accomplishments knowing that you will not have to go into debt or borrow when unexpected expenses come.
Final thoughts, paying yourself first should be the incentive to work harder for a raise and/or promotion, to find a new job, or start a side hustle. This will enable you to pay down your debt and pay your other expenses because no matter your situation you should be paying yourself. Hence, your money can work harder for you. There will be no need to say “Why Can’t I Save Money”.
How to save money
Saving money does not have to be super complicated. Start slow – $5 or $10 per week or pay period. Set a savings goal. The best goal to start with would be to reach $1,000. Per a Bankrate poll, just 39 percent of Americans surveyed say they could afford an unexpected expense of $1,000. That is 4 in 10 U.S. adults. Saving $1,000 would require you to say $20 a week for 52 weeks. That is about $80/month. If this feels too steep start with $5 a week. Work your way up to $20 a work. See the chart below showing how much you can save if you save $5, $10, $15, or $20 per week. However, saving your first $1,000 should be your ultimate goal. Therefore, using one of these plans will leave you with no reason to say “Why Can’t I Save Money”.
$5 a week is $260 per year
$10 a week is $520 per year
$15 a week is $780 per year
$10 a week is $1,040 per year
You Do Not Prepare For what-Ifs – Emergency Fund And Beyond
Not being prepared for an emergency leads to many having to borrow to make ends meet. Per Bankrate, nearly 4 in 10 Americans would need to borrow to pay for an unexpected bill. If you are fortunate to not have to pay it back then you have been made whole. Use this reset to start anew. Create a budget from this point on that will prevent you from having to borrow again. Use this time wisely to go from why can’t I save money to now I can save.
Ideally, you want to create a savings plan that will allow you to save 3- 6 months of living expenses. This should be your 2nd saving goal. An emergency fund gives you the freedom of independence should an unexpected event occur. Hence, the importance and necessity of an emergency fund. I call it my rainy day fund.
Once you have your debt eliminated continue to add to your emergency fund to reach 6 to 12 months of living expenses. Once you achieved that goal begin to pay into the 401k plan at your job and/or set up an investment plan with a financial advisor. Set up sinking fund accounts to save for the things you want the most but can’t afford now without going into debt. Remember, you do not need everything now.
Recap of the 10 reasons why you can’t save money – Review and take steps so you can save:
1. You do not have a budget that includes saving
2. You do not know how to save
3. You do not plan for the unexpected – Emergency Fund
4. You have too much debt
5. You Have Student Loan Debt
6. You are house poor/renter poor
7. You have too many unnecessary bills and subscriptions
8. You shop too much and/or not frugal
9. You eat out too much
10. You Need to learn to pay yourself first
Here are 6 ways to save
1. Pay yourself first
2. Add a savings goal to your budget
3. Pay into your 401k or another investment plan
4. Pay into your emergency fund
5. Use auto deposits
6. Limit your access to these funds
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Let’s Budget Spend and live!
Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.Matthew 25:27