I recently read an article that reported 21% of working American adults don’t save any money for financial goals. Only 16% save more than fifteen percent of their income.
And, I imagine (since you’re reading this post), you’ve also struggled with saving money.
You’re an intelligent, hard-working, responsible adult. You have more than enough for bare necessities. Even after all the bills are paid, you have plenty left over to shop at Target and eat out at your favorite restaurants.
And, yet, you can’t help but feel a little anxious every time you look at your savings balance.
Why is it so hard to save money?
Actually, I think most of us make it harder than it needs to be.
I’m going to guess that nobody is *forcing* you to make those car payments or remodel your basement. You don’t have to buy $5 coffee and $50 shoes.
How we use our money is our own choice. We can use it to feel good in the moment – for the moment. Or we can choose to sacrifice temporary gratification for a financially secure future.
Saving money comes down to a choice. Are you willing, or not?
Personally, I blamed everything but myself for not saving money. I had too much debt. I didn’t have enough income. I needed a bigger house.
But, I was the only one holding me back from better financial choices. And I was the only one who could make the decision to change.
Once you decide you’re going to take full responsibility and commit to saving more money, all you have to do is replace some poor habits with better ones.
No matter when you start, you can learn to save and manage money like a boss. So, shed the shame and grab the wheel.
It’s time to take control.
Grab this FREE Money Saving Plan to help you create a savings strategy!
Why Is It So Hard To Save Money? Here Are 5 Obstacles.
You’re totally capable of going from a late saver to a *great* saver.
The key is identifying the obstacles that keep you from making progress. Once you know what’s holding you back, you can take steps to replace them with habits that will make saving money so much easier.
Here are 5 barriers I’ve identified that will keep you from saving money:
- Living beyond your means
- Don’t have a budget
- Too much debt
- Don’t make enough money
- Stuck in a scarcity mindset
This totally makes sense, right? The savings struggle is real! I mean, I look at this list and I think, no wonder I haven’t saved more money.
But let’s dig a little deeper, and I’ll give you some suggestions for how to turn your struggle into success.
1. I’m Living Beyond My Means
This could mean different things to different people. Maybe you’re house poor, or maybe you live in a double-wide but the truck parked outside is keeping you on a ramen noodle diet.
Either way, if your expenses gobble up every cent you make then there’s a problem.
And the problem, my friends, is that you are living on the edge.
Not like, ooooo, you’re such a daredevil adventurous risk taker living life *on the edge*, dude!
No, not that. I mean you’re going to fall over the cliff the next time your car breaks down or you go see the dentist because you can no longer bear the pain.
You’re going to fall deeper into the abyss of debt because you don’t have any savings to save you.
To overcome this struggle, there’s really one thing you gotta do. Cut expenses.
- get rid of the truck (and its payment)
- downsize your home
- stop going to Starbucks
- cut out cable
- shop at Goodwill
And, of course, whatever else it takes to bring your outflow under control. (Check out my post on how I cut $1,000 from our monthly expenses to get some more ideas.)
Even those who make twice as much as you do can fall into the lifestyle inflation trap. Don’t fool yourself into thinking I don’t make enough money (although we’ll get to that in a sec). Living within your means is more of a mindset than a benefit of your bank balance.
You’ll never be able to save unless there’s some space between what it takes to live and what you put in the bank. One way to create that space is with a budget.
2. I Don’t Have A Budget
A budget is a tool that helps you track your money. Once you can identify your spending patterns and you know where your money is going, you have the financial awareness to make better choices.
Creating a budget takes time, courage, and possibly a glass of wine. Time for gathering all the info to make a realistic budget, courage to come face to face with all your financial mistakes on paper, and wine to take the edge off the anxiety that can ensue.
The good news is, once you have a budget habit in place, it’s just a matter of doing a weekly or monthly maintenance check-in. This will help you make sure you’re not repeating all those mistakes you made before you created the budget.
With a budget, you’ll see how much is coming in and going out, and what’s left over.
But here’s the key: don’t treat what’s left over like it’s leftovers.
In other words, don’t wait until you’ve gobbled up most of your income before you put away what’s left.
Instead, pay yourself FIRST.
If you want to overcome the struggle of saving, you must take your share off the top before you start giving it away to everyone else.
Preferably, this means it comes out of your check before you even see it. But, if you can’t do that, then you should at least have some sort of auto-transfer as soon as your check hits your account. (You can read these 11 ways to automate savings.)
Don’t wait until the next day, after you’ve thought about how fun it would be to meet your friends for drinks and appetizers. You’ll be tempted to cheat yourself out of those savings, and it’ll be too easy to convince yourself “there’s always next week’s check!”.
Move it as soon as you can, anticipating how good you’ll feel when you see your savings balance inch a little bit higher.
3. I’m In Too Much Debt
This is a tricky one.
Should I build up savings, or should I pay off debt? This has been one of my biggest struggles with money.
If I build up my savings and just pay the minimum on my credit cards, then I’ll be able to pay cash for unexpected emergencies instead of charging them. Sounds good! I won’t get deeper in debt!
But if I only make the minimum payments, it will take me 152 years to pay it off (or, something like that). And if I’m paying 22% interest, this means my debt is actually growing every month even if I don’t put another dime on that evil card.
So, while I’m adding more to my savings, I’m also adding more to my debt. And that sucks.
Dave Ramsey recommends saving up a $1,000 emergency fund – a “starter” fund for little emergencies that inevitably arise. Once you’ve got that in the bank, you need to throw all your focus and spare change and badass vibes toward paying off your debt.
Because, when everything washes out, paying off debt is saving. The more you pay it down, the less debt you’ll have. And the less debt you have, the more you can save.
(*However.* If the interest you’re paying on debt is significantly less than the interest you’re gaining with savings, you could do better to give more love to your savings as you continue to pay down debt. This is what I do.)
Your budget will tell you how much you pay for debt every month. Add up those amounts over a year, and you’ll probably see a number that could cover a nice summer vacation in Maui.
Get out of debt, so you can stop paying everyone else except yourself.
4. I Don’t Make Enough Money
In Jack Canfield’s book, The Success Principles, the author tells it to us straight:
If you are in a situation that is less than you desire, you can just go ahead and blame yourself. No redirection required.
- your marriage is crummy
- your job sucks
- you’re overweight
- you’re single and lonely
- you don’t make enough money
- you get the picture
…then, you’re not doing what it takes to change your awful circumstances.
Blaming your spouse, your boss, your schedule, or your job is just making excuses. You are the one that needs to make the change necessary to get from where you are to where you want to be.
The reason I bring this up is because if your savings struggle is primarily tied to not making enough money, then you’re getting in your own way.
This is what you should do: go stand in front of a mirror and tell the person in front of you that her boss is not to blame for the -$9.42 balance in her account.
Then point your finger at the mirror and say “You are!“.
Now, you’re on your way to making more money. Here are three ways you can do that:
- Make more money where you’re at
- Get a side hustle
- Create passive income
First, you may need to step over into the discomfort zone and ask for a raise.
If you really don’t feel like you deserve one, then start acting like you do. Stay late, volunteer for projects, bring your boss cookies.
Get to a point – whether through your own actions or through mentally psyching yourself up – where you firmly believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, you are raise-worthy. Then go into your boss’ office on fire and ask for more money.
Another way to increase your inflow is to get a 2nd job. We live in the age of the side hustle, and there have never been more opportunities to make a little extra cash.
Drive a car, walk some dogs, or tutor kids. If you think hard enough, you’ll come up with something you can make money at and enjoy doing. Who knows, it may turn into a full-time gig.
My last suggestion to bring in extra cash is to create passive income.
Passive income is essentially a stream of income you receive by doing nothing.
You read that right. Nada.
- owning a rental property
- investment income
- sell stuff online (e-commerce)
- monetize a blog
All of these ideas take an initial investment of time, energy, and money. But once you get it off the ground and get the word out about your awesome rental/product/blog, money will start streaming in.
And don’t start off with but I don’t know how. Google has an answer for everything. Go find the answer, get to work, and make that money!
Use your rockin’ budget to make sure you’re finding a safe place for that extra income. Maybe open a money market account to build up all your savings.
Before you know it, you’ll be reading travel magazines and putting up pictures of Paris around the house. Crushing your savings goals makes it easier to believe you can live the life you dream of.
5. I Have A Scarcity Mindset
This may be the most important struggle to overcome because it can keep you from overcoming all the others.
It can also be the toughest.
A scarcity mindset might be something you have difficulty recognizing in yourself, or are resistant to change.
If you don’t know what a scarcity mindset is, I can explain – mostly because I’m intimately familiar with it.
A scarcity mindset is a belief set that convinces you there will never be enough. Because of this, your actions toward, feelings about, and attitudes surrounding money all originate from a place of lack. You get stuck in a mind loop that there is never enough and there never will be enough.
If you happen to already be rich, this mindset will turn you turn into a hoarding, selfish and miserable complainer that nobody wants to be around.
If you’re not so rich, you’ll also turn into a hoarding, selfish and miserable complainer that nobody wants to be around. But you’ll also never be rich.
Having a scarcity mindset will convince you that:
- there are no more expenses to cut
- a budget only helps to keep you at your financial level
- you’ll always be in debt
- your income is fixed
You live in fear of not having enough, so you hold on tightly to what you have, believing it will never get better.
This fear keeps you from seeing all the opportunities to increase your wealth that surround you. Your security is wrapped up in your current income and “just getting by”, so you never take any risks.
One way to overcome a scarcity mindset is to just start saving, even in small amounts. Open up a savings account and start with twenty bucks a week. Or increase your 401K contribution by 1%. This is just as much an exercise in growing wealth as it is in letting go of limiting beliefs.
Develop an abundance mindset by releasing your death grip and taking some risks, even if it means just leaving a bigger tip for the grumpy Waffle House waitress.
And believe that the opportunity to grow your wealth is right in front of you.
Don’t forget to download this FREE Money Saving Plan so you can start turning your saving struggle into success!
You can learn to save more money
Saving money is hard.
This is because saving money is a habit, and habits are hard to make. At least, until they’re not and then they’re hard to break.
If it’s a struggle for you, spend some time reflecting on the why behind it. Pursue some awareness of what’s holding you back from building wealth.
- If your bills are gobbling up your entire paycheck, you may need to cut expenses.
- If any potential savings seems to disappear by the end of the month, get on a budget.
- If your credit card payments keep you from paying yourself, pay off your debt.
- If your paycheck doesn’t allow for putting some away, increase your income.
- If you believe you are destined to always live paycheck to paycheck, develop an abundance mindset.
Once you can put your finger on it, do what it takes to make a change.
Remember – one small step at a time, over time, can lead to tremendous results. You can do it!