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
You may also like to read:
Setting Up A Budget For Beginners
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
47 thoughts on “Why can’t I Save Money: 10 Reasons You Can’t Save Money”
These are great tips! The best thing I ever did was create a budget, that way I could pay off my debt and save!
It is all about the budget. So happy for you! You got this!
After living with a man whose attitude about spending money was “It’s like Doritos, I’ll make more”, I have become a huge believer in savings. Before losing our jobs to Covid, savings was the first thing on the budget. When getting a parent plus loan for our son, the “class” we were required to take actually said that we were putting too much into savings (can you imagine?). Since the job loss, we haven’t been able to stay at that level, but we pared our budget down to the bare bones…stopped eating out, shopped much more frugally, etc. Somehow we have managed, even being able to continue our practice of paying credit card balances before incurring any interest. FYI, we found that Hulu Live allowed us to continue watching live sports without the higher cable bill.
Thanks for sharing. We will have to look into Hulu Live for sports. We also lost our jobs. My husband was able to get another one. I am still looking. BTW, you can never save too much!
This is just what I needed to read! I have way too many subscriptions and need to tackle my student loan debt.
Alexis, canceling subscriptions should help. Good luck! You can do it!
I agree that you need to have a budget to save money. Mine comes right out of my paycheck, so I never miss it.
Tammy, the best thing ever. Auto deposits. Good luck with your savings goals.
Great post! Those subscriptions sure do add up!
Yes, they do. Thanks for sharing.
Yeah. Saving is a habit. Whatever you learned from your parents carries over to adulthood but you can develop a new habit being grown up. Thank you for good guidance and example!
Yes, I had to learn how to be better with money. It was so worth it. You are very welcome. So glad I could help. Thanks for sharing I appreciate you.
Such good information. I have a gf who says the same thing to our friends. She’s the only one who can’t seem to save and always has new things she just bought. Which most of it is just junk. Definitely going to send this her way
One day she will have a change of heart and you will be there to help her get on the right track. Share this with all your friends and family. I truly appreciate you. Thanks for sharing.
Great tips. Once we paid off our debt, we were able to do more saving. We have sinking funds, an emergency fund, and now I’m trying to figure out how to save for my retirement and my kids’ college. We already have my husband’s retirement covered and I’m included in that, but I want something separate, too. But finding what to sacrifice to make that possible is hard.
Once debts are paid off, life is full of possibilities. Congrats on being debt-free. You will figure it out. We did. You are on the right track. Thanks for sharing.
One thing I always thank my father for: he paid for my college education so I don’t have any school debt. That has been such a blessing to my household. And we try to make most of our meals. With four kids, we can’t afford to be broke or without emergency savings.
Money in the bank means never being broke. Congrats to your Dad and to you.
These are great tips! I have an auto deposit set up to help us save money for our travel. I have been doing it for years! We just look at it like a bill payment. It makes all the difference in our ability to save up for our vacations.
Like minds. That is how my husband and I have always looked at savings. A bill we pay to ourselves for the things we want. Thanks for sharing.
It is an important concept, saving money, that needs to have its ideas planted in young minds.
Yes, if they learn at a young age to save they will never be broke.
If we have money in our checking account, it gets spent. Best thing we did was move money into savings the minute we get paid!
I agree 100% – money in the checking account is for spending. Money in the savings account is for emergencies and fun things you want for another time.
I live by this. I have been better at certain times of my life but pretty much have been consistent.
So do I. Life happens so there will always be times you can save more and others where you save less. Nevertheless, you are saving. The thing is to be consistent. Save whatever you can. Thanks for sharing.
Such great advice for putting some aside!
Thank you. I am glad you liked it.
Such great tips. I love your tell it to me straight approach! I fall in the “I have too many subscriptions category!”
Thank you. I try to be truthful. Thanks for sharing.
We used a debt payoff spreadsheet and it became fun to watch the balanced owed go down over time. And when something was paid off, we’d highlight the column in bright money green!
Wonderful, that is the best part about tracking the paying off of debt. You get to celebrate each win. Congratulations!
I’m saving a little from each paycheck but I think I can increase it soon. Good information.
It is most important that you are saving. It is fantastic that you will be able to increase it soon. Thanks so much for sharing.
Great tips and so helpful !
Thank you. I am thrilled that you think so.
These are excellent tips for budgeting and planning so that we can save more money!
Thank you I am just sharing what I have experienced.
Great post! I know that I have WAY to many auto-renew subscriptions, but just have not gone through them to cancel. It’s on my never-ending to-do list!
Those auto-renews will get you every time. You got this! Thanks for sharing.
Great tips! Saving money can be so challenging!
Yes, savings can be challenging but we can do it! Thanks for sharing.
This has motivated me to start consistently saving again! This past year we had a lot of unexpected bills and saving was difficult. However, every little bit helps. Saving something is better than nothing. Thanks!
Thanks so much for sharing these Sabrina! I’ve been trying to practice the Pay Yourself First approach and it’s incredible to see the benefits. Slowly but surely!
Yes! I am so happy for you. Keep it going. You got this.