Updated: Nov 20, 2018
Spending money comes fairly easy but for some reason saving doesn't come as naturally. So I am here to tell you that saving money will always be difficult until you make it a habit. Spending money comes so naturally because we are used to doing it. But imagine if, instead, we saved our money and looked for every possible alternative to prevent us from spending money. Then spending may become more difficult than the savings since it's not what we are accustomed doing. So, if you struggle with saving here are some tips that may help you get started:
1. Set a goal- more specifically a SMART goal, which means that it should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. This means that your goals may be and should (most likely) be different from that of your friends. Here's an example:
Sam is driving a 10 year old car that has nearly 200,000 miles on it. He decides that he would like to save $1,200 within 12 months to for a down payment on a car. Sam's goal is specific as he's established the amount of the goal as $1,200, it's measurable as he's identified the dollar amount, attainable since saving $100 a month to reach is goal fits into his budget, which also makes it a realistic goal based on his situation, relevant as it pertains to a reasonable need/want in his life and timely as he has set a deadline of 12 months from now.
2. Pay yourself first- this is where you have to make it a habit. You do this by paying yourself (your savings) before you pay others/companies for services or things they have provided to you, or money that they have loaned to you. Usually, you can begin paying yourself first in one of two ways, pre-deposit or post deposit. Pre- deposit would be a deduction from your check that is established with your employer to happen before your net deposit/check is made to you. An example of this is your 401k contributions or an established allotment. Post-deposit may include an automatic transfer from your checking account to a savings account that you set up with your bank to occur at a set day or date every month after your check has been deposited into your account. Whichever one you chose to do, they are both considered paying yourself first.
3. Establish an emergency fund- this fund will be for true emergencies such as when you have a flat tire or lose your job; the goal is to keep the credit card debt at bay. A good rule of thumb is to establish a fund that will cover 3-6 months of your monthly expenses. The deadline you give yourself to establish this fund will determine how much you will need to contribute per month. Follow the SMART goal suggestion mentioned above to make sure it is a realistic and attainable goal. But, remember that an emergency fund is key to avoiding consumer debt, and also urgent as you never know when one of these emergencies may arise.
4. It's not easy, it takes time, and it requires discipline. Unfortunately, building a solid savings account does not provide the instant gratification we crave. However, it is one of the best financial decisions you can make and should eventually provide a greater peace of mind and less anxiety over your finances.