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“Why is there so much month left at the end of the money?” John Barrymore once asked. It’s a humorous take on a serious issue – many of us struggle with saving money. Saving is a crucial financial habit that provides security, peace of mind, and the opportunity to achieve our goals. However, many of us struggle to save, often living paycheque to paycheque, and accumulating debt. So, we’re going to explore the reasons why you may not be saving and provide actionable steps to help you start saving today.
A low-level job, a stagnant salary, or unpredictable income sources may leave you struggling to meet basic needs, let alone save. To fix this, why not explore ways to earn more? You can advance your career or start a side hustle to increase your income. Remember, earning more money will only help if you save some or all of your extra cash.
High Living Expenses
Maybe you spend a lot, leaving little or no money for saving. To evaluate your spending habits, track how much you spend each month. See where you can cut unnecessary expenses, and, for necessary expenses, try to find more affordable alternatives. For example, food is a necessary expense but you can reduce your food bill by weekly meal prep, buying cheaper versions of food you like, and eating in restaurants less frequently.
Poor Financial Education
Many of us were never taught financial literacy. If you don’t know how to manage your money, it’ll be hard for you to save. But it’s never too late to learn; there are a lot of resources to help you teach yourself how to budget, invest, and make informed financial decisions. Remember, you’re not on this journey alone; you can always ask a financial advisor to help you seize control of your future.
Too Much Debt
Debt, whether in the form of bank loans, credit card balances, or personal loans, can be a major obstacle to saving. Big debt payments will eat into disposable income, making it difficult to set money aside. To prevent this, you need to develop a debt repayment strategy. It may seem impossible to repay all your debt at once. However, you can focus on repaying the debt with the highest interest, while making the minimum payment for other debts. Or, you can repay the smallest debt first. Gradually, you’ll reduce your debt and over time you’ll be able to save more.
Maybe you make expensive, unplanned purchases because of emotional triggers, social pressures, or bad habits. Buying a cup of coffee now and then isn’t going to decimate your savings. However, if you max out your credit card whenever you feel sad, your savings will be depleted quickly. To reduce impulse spending, try to identify what causes you to make unwise purchases and then come up with a strategy to combat that issue. For example, you may implement a waiting period before making non-essential purchases exceeding a particular amount of money. Remember though that you do need fun money. When budgeting, you should put aside some cash to fund the things you enjoy.
Unclear Financial Goals
It’s hard to save if you’re not sure what you’re saving for. Maybe you know that you want to buy a house someday, but that may not be enough to motivate you to save now. Write down short-, medium-, and long-term financial goals, such as saving for a vacation, making a down payment on a home, or saving for retirement. Remember to make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, in five years’ time, you will have saved $X, which will be the down payment on your house; this means that you have to save $Y every month. Your goals will provide a purpose and direction for saving.
Some of us adopt an all or nothing attitude to achieving our goals. So, if you fall short of your saving goals, you may feel as if you’ve achieved nothing and go crazy with your spending. But, if your goal is to save 20% of your salary a month and you only save 10%, you’re still saving. The path to financial stability is bumpy; there’ll be unexpected setbacks and you may temporarily revert to old habits. But you shouldn’t give up. Remember to adopt a can-do attitude and, over time, you’ll take control of your financial future and your saving habits will help you to build a better tomorrow.
Good luck on your journey!