3 min read
Saving money is an essential life skill. It gives you freedom, security, and the ability to do things you've always dreamed of. But for some reason, even when people know that saving money is essential, they can't do it.
If that’s you, there are seven reasons why you might be having trouble saving money. Let’s look at each one, so you can see what’s keeping you from hitting your money goal and how you can overcome them.
1. You don’t have a budget
The number one reason why people can't save money is that they need a budget. People who don't have a budget are more likely to overspend on things they don't need, like lattes and shopping sprees at Target.
To live within your means while saving money, you must get on track by creating an actual written plan. This plan outlines what you spend your money on and how much is allocated for different categories (i.e., food, rent, etc.).
This way, when those unexpected expenses pop up, there will be enough money left over in each category so that everything gets completely removed from your budgeted spending allocation.
If you need to track how much money comes in and goes out of your bank account each month or even every week, then no one can know where all their hard-earned cash goes each month or year.
A budget will help you save money because:
- It makes you aware of what you’re spending money on and how much it costs. This can help prevent you from making unnecessary purchases that drain your bank account.
- A budget will give you a clear picture of how much money is coming in and going out of your bank account, allowing you to make better-informed decisions about where to allocate your funds.
- A budget will help you know how much money you can save each month, allowing you to contribute more if possible and avoid unnecessary spending.
2. Your expenses outweigh your income
You would think that the first step to saving money is to earn more, but this is only part of the equation. The other half is cutting back on your expenses to have more money left after your bills are paid. This can be challenging or fun, but it's necessary if you want to start saving money.
You may need to change jobs, get a second job to earn more income, or at least find ways for your employer to pay you more without putting in any extra effort (more on that later). Or all you need is motivation and guidance from someone who has been there.
Tips to preventing expenses from outweighing your income:
Only spend money on things you need or will use. This is the easiest way to avoid expenses from overpowering your income. Question each purchase before making it, and think about whether or not you will actually use whatever it is you are considering buying. If so, then go ahead and make the purchase.
Make a budget and stick to it. The greatest approach to keep spending from exceeding your income is to have a budget. Knowing where all your money is going will help you avoid overspending and prevent unnecessary purchases that could throw off your monthly budget. Make a budget that includes all of your spending, including rent, utilities, groceries, entertainment, and any upcoming bills or significant purchases (like furniture). Then, stick to it.
Set aside a portion of your income for savings, such as a retirement account or an emergency fund. Put some money away for a retirement account, which can help provide a comfortable lifestyle when you retire. You should also set aside some money for savings to have an emergency fund in case of unexpected expenses.
Get a side job. If you're already working full-time, getting a side job or freelance gig that pays extra money may be possible. You can use this money for personal expenses or save it.
3. It’s not a priority
The third reason you can't save money is that it isn't a priority. If you don't prioritize saving, then there won't be any time in your schedule to do the things that will help you reach your goal.
This means that if saving money isn’t important enough for you to make time for it in your life, then there will never be any extra money in your wallet.
Tips on prioritizing to save money
The first step in prioritizing saving money is setting a goal for how much you want to save and when you want to reach it. This can be anything from $100 for an emergency fund to $5,000 for an upcoming vacation. Write down your goal on paper so that it’s easily accessible and visible in your life.
Making a strategy to accomplish your goal is the next step. Think about the amount of money you need and plan how many months it will take to save. Then, break each month into daily tasks so you can see exactly what actions are needed to complete your goal on time.
The final step is to make saving money a daily habit. This can be as easy as setting aside $5 from your paycheck each week or putting an amount of money into a savings account that you will touch once you reach your goal.
4. You don’t have a goal
If you want to save money, you must have a goal. If you need to know where the money is going, how will you know when you've saved enough?
Let's take the example of wanting to purchase a new car in two years. Setting this target date will give you direction and motivation for saving.
How does not having a goal affect you from saving?
You are more likely to spend when you don't have a clear goal. It is in our nature to desire what we cannot have, and when we don't know precisely what that is, it makes us want it even more.
Another reason not having a goal can affect your savings is because it makes you feel like you are just saving for the sake of saving. It's essential to have a purpose behind every action, and when this purpose needs to be clarified, it can make saving less enjoyable.
5. No emergency fund with 3-6 months of expenses
What is an emergency fund? A personal cash reserve that you can utilize in the event of a financial catastrophe, such as losing your job or getting into an accident
An emergency fund will allow you to avoid debt to pay for unexpected expenses like medical bills and car repairs, which helps keep your credit score healthy.
When you have no emergency fund, it can make saving less enjoyable. Having an emergency fund will help keep you from going into debt if something unexpected happens, which is why it's so important to start one as soon as possible.
Why do I need an emergency fund?
If something unexpected happens, saving money can help avoid financial ruin and reduce stress during stressful times (like when your car breaks down).
Having 3-6 months' worth of savings can protect against most potential disasters, ideally more than that if possible.
No matter what stage of life we're in or what level our income is at, everyone needs an emergency fund, even if they have no debt whatsoever! This fund should ideally contain enough money so that when something unexpected comes up like car repairs or home repairs; job loss; medical emergencies; etc.
You may also want to consider putting some of this money towards securing other sources of income, such as unemployment insurance or disability insurance. These need to provide more money alone but could help bridge the gap when combined with other sources (such as 401k contributions).
6. You spend money on things you don’t need
This is one of the biggest problems many people face. They spend money on things they don’t need and often don't even want.
Spending money on things you don't need may surprise you. It leads to the creation of a lifestyle that is not sustainable. You may be able to afford your lifestyle for a while, but when times get tough, you'll find yourself struggling to make ends meet.
You can avoid this situation by spending money on things you don't need. If you often purchase items that aren't necessities, stop and ask yourself if this purchase is worth it. You may be surprised to discover that other options are available, such as waiting until a sale or using coupons.
Consider whether you need that item in the first place. If you are buying something because it looks nice, think again. You can find something else that will make your house look nicer, such as painting or decorating with other things.
7. You’re not paying yourself first
This might be a bold statement, but if you're not paying yourself first, you are not saving money.
The only way in which you can save money is by putting money away before you pay anyone else. Otherwise, the funds will be spent and never saved (or worse yet, on things outside your best interest). Pay yourself first if you want to get out of debt and save for retirement or other goals.
Listen, when it comes time to paying bills or making purchases, consider allocating part of your income towards saving before spending anything else on discretionary items like new clothes and nights out at restaurants with friends.
The less money you have tied up in monthly payments for things like a car or credit cards, the more cash you have left over each month. You can invest this money into building wealth using savings accounts where your money earns interest rather than being eaten away by annual percentage rates (APRs).
So, what’s the takeaway from all this?
If you're trying to save money and can't seem to get anywhere, it might be because there are other financial priorities in your life.
Maybe you just bought a new car, or maybe your mortgage is overdue. Whatever the case may be, if these things are weighing you down and making it impossible for you to set aside any extra money, then number one on your list should be paying off that debt and getting rid of those bills.
Once that's taken care of, then it's time to start thinking about how much cash flow is coming in every month, and where some of it needs to go right away.
It should be obvious by now: if you want to save money, it's time to get serious about your finances. That means making a budget and sticking to it, paying yourself first, creating an emergency fund with at least 3 months' worth of expenses covered (and 6 months if possible), setting some goals, and working toward them every day with purpose.
I hope this article will help you save more money for your future.