Why Is It So Hard To Save Money? 15 Tips To Make It Easier

man with empty pockets why is it so hard to save money?

It doesn’t have to be so hard to save money

Have you ever looked at your bank account balance and wondered where all your money went? Why is it so hard to save money?

In the current economic climate, many people are struggling to cover their daily expenses, much less add any money to savings.

Between the rising inflation rate, and increasing grocery and gas prices, people at all income levels are feeling the pinch in their wallet. In fact, over half of U.S. households cannot cover a $1000 financial emergency out of their disposable incomes.

Although these external circumstances are out of your control, there are still good money habits you can develop that will help you be more successful with your financial goals. You don’t need to be stuck in a scarcity mindset and believe that there’s nothing you can do to increase monthly savings!

On the flipside, it’s possible that your lifestyle has not been impacted by external circumstances, but your savings account is still looking pretty bare. In that instance, it’s important to do a little investigating to figure out what’s holding you back from saving money.

In this post, I’ll give you 15 reasons your saving account is suffering, so you can have a better understanding why it is so hard to save money.  I’ll also give you actionable tips you can take to start saving more money, regardless of your situation. Each of these tips will help you build more wealth, so you can reach your financial goals faster.

Grab this FREE Money Saving Plan to help you create a savings strategy!

 

15 reasons it’s so hard to save money

Did you know that you’re totally capable of going from a late saver to a *great* saver?

The key is identifying the obstacles that make saving difficult for you. 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 15 barriers I’ve identified that will keep you from saving money:

  1. Living beyond your means
  2. Don’t have a budget
  3. Too much credit card debt
  4. Don’t make enough money
  5. Not tracking your spending
  6. Lifestyle inflation
  7. Saving money is not a priority
  8. Don’t have meaningful goals
  9. No emergency funds
  10. Impulse shopping
  11. High fixed month to month expenses
  12. Living paycheck to paycheck
  13. Lack financial literacy
  14. A scarcity mindset
  15. An economic downturn

You likely aren’t struggling with everything on the list, but even just one or two of these obstacles will get in the way of saving more money.

Let’s dig a little deeper into each one, and I’ll give you some suggestions for how to turn your struggle into success.

1. I’m living beyond my means

If your daily expenses exceed your monthly income, there’s nothing left to save. Plus, living beyond your means only sets you up to get deeper in debt because you don’t have any cash savings to cover a financial emergency.

To overcome this struggle, there’s really one thing you have to do. Cut expenses.

Depending on your financial circumstances, this could mean:

  • you get rid of the car payment (and the shiny new car)
  • downsize your home and move to a more affordable neighborhood
  • stop going to Starbucks, Target, Amazon, or wherever else you spend compulsively
  • cut out cable, the gym, and unused subscriptions you don’t need
  • try shopping at Goodwill before you buy new

A good way to live within your means is to always pay cash. If you can’t cover the cost with your checking account, you can’t afford it! This one rule will keep you from pulling out your credit cards. Choose to use your debit cards instead.

Keep in mind that living beyond your income doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t make enough money. You might simply just be spending too much on discretionary expenses. 

Learn about more expenses you can reduce by reading my post on how I cut $1,000 from our monthly expenses.

You’ll never be able to save unless there’s some space between what it takes to live and what you put in your bank account. One way to create that space is with a budget.

2. I’m not budgeting

A budget is like a spending plan that helps you maximize your cash flow, pay your bills on time, and increase your savings contributions. 

If you’re not currently on a budget, this could be a major reason you can’t save money. Without a plan for your money, it can be tough to stick to spending limits.

A budget will help you be more intentional with your money. When you give every dollar a purpose, you maximize your income.

One way to be purposeful with saving more money is to include it in your budget. Assign your monthly savings goal as a regular expense, and pay it like it’s any other bill.

There are a few popular budget methods to choose from, including envelope budgeting, zero-sum budgeting, and the 50/30/20 budget. Find a budget system that fits your needs, create some budgeting goals, and get intentional with your money.

3. I’m in too much credit card debt

Having too much credit card debt can make it hard to save money. Many people get caught up in the cycle of focusing on debt repayment and ignoring savings. However, this strategy can leave you in a bind when an unexpected expense comes up and you have to charge it.

Dave Ramsey recommends saving up $1,000 in emergency savings. This is like 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 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.

Be sure to prioritize your debts (student loan payments, medical bills, credit cards, etc.) so you’re strategic about minimizing your debt load. Come up with a payment plan (such as Ramsey’s Debt Snowball) that will get you out of debt the fastest.

Once your debt is paid off, saving money will be so much easier – as long as you don’t keep charging!

4. I don’t make enough income

Sometimes it’s simply the lack of money that makes it a challenge to build more savings.  That might seem like a hopeless situation, but actually, increasing your income is within your control.

There are only so many corners you can cut in your budget, but your capacity to earn extra cash is limitless. 

Start with where you’re at: your job.

Ask for a raise, or apply for a promotion. This is probably the most convenient way to make extra income.

If you don’t have that opportunity, then look into a second part-time job, a flexible side gig, or starting a side biz of your own. You could also consider looking for a better job that pays more money.

Raise a little extra cash quickly by selling unused items around the house, or offering a service in your area. If you’re not in an urgent situation, consider building passive income streams with an online business – which typically takes longer to generate revenue.

The biggest obstacle to making more money is often right between your ears. If your brain is operating with the wrong mindset, it can be tough to believe that more income is possible.

Take the time to research all of the opportunities that are available to make some extra money, both in your area and online. Perhaps you just need a little more training, or you need to overcome that impostor syndrome before you can uplevel your income.

Also, make sure you’re finding a safe place for all that added income. Look into a money market account or high-yield savings accounts so it has a place to grow.

Before you know it, you’ll be crushing your savings goals and wondering why you ever thought saving money was hard.

5. I don’t track my spending

If you want to save more money, then it’s crucial that you know where every dollar is going.

Creating a budget will give you a spending plan to stick to, but first you need to know what expenses are necessary, and which can be cut out.

An easy way to do this is by looking at previous bank statements, and categorizing each transaction as necessary or discretionary. You’ll get a good idea of how much income is going towards expenses that could be eliminated.

Look for subscription service charges, gym membership fees, overdraft fees, dining out expenses, clothing expenses, and anything else that isn’t absolutely necessary.  This way, you’ll find the opportunities to reduce spending and start saving more 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.

6. Lifestyle inflation / lifestyle creep

If you’ve ever allowed social pressures to influence your purchase decisions, you may be struggling with lifestyle inflation.

Also known as “lifestyle creep”, this bad money habit will tempt you to spend more when you make more. This is often the case for people who suddenly get rich by winning the lottery. They expand their lifestyle to consume all of that extra money. Then, they go broke.

Here’s a tip: you don’t have to spend everything you make.

As your income increases over time, don’t justify higher living expenses. Instead, keep your current costs of living and put the extra money in your savings account.

Read more about lifestyle inflation and how to overcome it.

7. Saving money is not a priority in my life

Many people that can’t afford to stop working once they reach retirement age simply didn’t make savings a priority in their younger years.

As the saying goes, “the days are long but the years are short”. You might feel like life is moving slowly and you have plenty of time to save for later. But, the fact is, the years will fly by and you’ll be old before you know it.

Saving money takes intention, sacrifice, and perseverance. Your nest egg won’t grow through wishful thinking and random choices! 

If you find it hard to save money, maybe you just haven’t made it a priority yet. The good news is, you can change your habits and start making better financial decisions for your money.

Start paying yourself first out of every paycheck, and put your focus on your future.

8. I don’t have meaningful savings goals

Without any financial goals, you may struggle to come up with good reasons to save money. 

A great way to make your savings a priority and put your focus on the future is to create meaningful goals for your money.

As a 50+ late saver, my main goal is building my nest egg and saving for retirement. Because, I don’t want to work in my 70s. I want to enjoy my golden years, and have the money to do things that will enrich my life. I don’t want to rely on Social Security or my kids to pay my bills, so I need to keep working towards the goal of financial independence. These are all reasons that keep me motivated.

There are still some major life events ahead of me (my children’s marriages, grandchildren, traveling, etc.) that I need to plan and prepare for. These goals also keep my spending in check and my savings on track.

Create some goals of your own, so you have some direction with your money. Come up with a financial plan that could improve your credit score, or build your retirement fund, or pay for a family vacation. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s meaningful to you.

Over time, you’ll be inspired to keep saving as you get closer to your goals.

9. I have no emergency funds

Yes, it’s true that an emergency fund is a type of savings account. So, it seems a little silly that I would imply you can’t save money because you don’t have savings, right?

However, having funds specifically set aside for emergency expenses will keep you from going into debt. And, we know from reason #3 above, that debt only makes saving money more difficult.

In other words, an emergency fund acts as a safety net that will help you stay on track with your savings goals. 

The popular recommendation is to have 3 to 6 months of emergency expenses. This is a great goal to have, but even $1000 will often be enough to keep your finances from derailing.

Find a high-yield savings account where you can keep your emergency funds, and don’t forget to replenish any money that you take out.

10. I’m an impulsive shopper

One habit that can make saving money so hard is impulsive shopping. This is the practice of buying things without any planning or consideration for the consequences. 

Impulsive shoppers are more focused on instant gratification than future goals. Their unplanned spending often results in more debt and less savings.

Making an impulse purchase from time to time won’t have a big impact on your budget, but excessive impulse spending can create major financial problems.

If you struggle with impulse shopping, try defining some daily spending limits that you can stick to. You could even add an “unplanned purchases” category in your budget, as long as your income still allows for savings contributions. This way, you can indulge in a little instant gratification occasionally while still saving money.

Another strategy to minimize impulsive spending is to always shop with a list. Know exactly what you’re going to buy, so you’re not randomly browsing the aisles.

When you cut back on impulsive purchases, you’ll see a big difference in your monthly budget. You’ll discover how much you actually spent on things you didn’t need. Let this realization motivate you to be more intentional with your spending so you can put more in savings.

11. I have high fixed expenses

If you’re still wondering why is it so hard to save money? then your budget might be challenged by too many high fixed expenses.

These could include a car payment, mortgage loan, insurance premiums, property taxes, or even your cell phone bill.

If any of these are eating up a good percentage of your income, you could struggle to save money. Even if you practice frugal habits, you still might not have any left at the end of the month.

The most obvious way of decreasing high fixed expenses is to get rid of whatever is taking up so much of your income.

You could:

  • downsize your home
  • trade in that new car for an older vehicle you can pay cash for
  • increase your insurance deductible to lower your premium
  • move to a neighborhood with lower property taxes
  • get rid of that new cell phone payment and buy a used one outright instead

Reducing or eliminating even just one high fixed expense can make a big difference in your saving efforts.

12. I live paycheck to paycheck

Maybe you don’t live beyond your means. Maybe you just use up every dollar that comes in. This is called “living paycheck to paycheck”.

This situation can either result from having just enough to pay your bills, or you’ve become comfortable with this bad money habit.

Either way, living paycheck to paycheck will make it very difficult for you to save any money.

Not only does this lifestyle prevent you from saving for your future, it also keeps you on the edge of a financial crisis. If you spend every dollar you make on regular, day-to-day expenses, then you won’t have any when an emergency arises.

Break out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle by taking the following steps:

  • decrease your expenses
  • limit your discretionary spending
  • increase your income

Also, having some meaningful goals set in place will help keep you focused on being intentional. 

13. I lack financial literacy

According to Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad), the number one thing you should do to build wealth is get educated.

And, these days, there’s really no excuse for not improving your financial literacy.

Between the library, YouTube, blogs, online courses, and podcasts, there is a wide range of financial topics and resources to teach you how to get your finances in order and save money.

If you’re serious about saving money, then make the effort to understand how personal finance works. Learn about investing, budgeting, debt payoff, and anything else that will help you reach your financial goals.

To give you some inspiration, check out these 21 free online personal finance courses.

14. 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.

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.

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 credit card 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 available to increase your wealth. Your financial 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 401(k) contribution by 1%. This is just as much an exercise in growing wealth as it is in letting go of limiting beliefs.

For more information, read my post on how to change your mindset.

15. An economic downturn

When the economy takes a turn for the worst, you’ll find it more difficult to build your savings account.

As of the date of this post, we are still living with the fallout of the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. High inflation, increased interest rates, and rising gas and grocery prices have made everyone’s budget a little tighter.

Even though this one is out of your control, there are still steps you can take to minimize the negative effects on your finances.

The smart thing to do is to reduce spending where you can. This could look like eating at home more, carpooling to work, shopping at thrift stores instead of Target, etc. Even these small changes can make a big difference in the bottom line.

Try to find even $10 in your budget to set aside every week. Staying in the habit of saving will help you ramp up your efforts once the economy recovers.

What happens if I can’t save money?

I get it. Saving money is hard.

Especially in the economic environment we’re currently living in. However, this isn’t a good enough reason to avoid or procrastinate any efforts to save. Let me tell you why.

If you can’t (or won’t) save money, the financial consequences will continue to accumulate and you will eventually run into a financial crisis.

For example:

  • Your debt balances will continue to increase until you can’t afford the payments.
  • You won’t have any emergency funds so you have to charge any unplanned expenses.
  • You can’t afford to quit a job that negatively affects your physical and mental health.
  • You’re unable to donate money to causes you care about.
  • You won’t be able to retire on time.
  • You’ll miss out on opportunities to enrich your life with travel and hobbies.
  • You’ll experience financial stress in your marriage, which could lead to divorce.
  • You may need to rely on your kids to support you in your old age.

These are a lot of really bad outcomes for not saving money, and this isn’t even all of them!

Saving money can be hard and inconvenient, but it’s crucial to building future financial security. Find the strategies in this post that work for you, and start making your savings a priority.

How you can save more money

So far, we’ve gone over several ways you can save more money, depending on your circumstances.

There are still a few more tips I’d like to share, and these could apply to any situation.

It’s important to remember that saving money is a habit you can develop over time. It may not come naturally at first, and you’ll probably fall into old patterns occasionally. But, don’t give up!

And, never discount saving even small amounts. Even if you can set aside $5, or $10, or $20 a week, this will help you grow disciplined with the habit of saving.

Here are a few more strategies you can use if you’re serious about saving money:

  • Set up automatic transfers for your savings contributions on a consistent basis, either with direct deposit or through your bank’s online transfer tool. To make the account spend-proof, use an online bank and cut up the debit card.
  • Determine a savings rate that works for your budget. Start small if you have to (like, 3%), then increase by 1% every month or two.
  • Know your money values and align your spending with your priorities.
  • Make an emotional connection with your reason for saving money. Whether it’s anger at all the money you’ve wasted, or hope for a better future, identify the emotion that will get you motivated.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. Get your eyes off of what everyone else has, and get focused on the future you want.
  • Get in touch with your future self. This is the person you want to be 5, 10 or 20 years from now. Think about the life you want in the far future, and understand the responsibility you have to take care of yourself in the future.
  • Make sure you and your partner or spouse are on the same page. Create common goals together, have weekly budget meetings, and hold each other accountable.
  • Use a budgeting app that makes it super easy to always check in with your accounts and see if you’re on track with your goals.
  • Create visual trackers for your savings goals, and put them somewhere so they’re visible to you every day.

FAQs

What are the challenges of saving money?

There are many reasons you may be challenged to save money. Some of those could include a high cost of living, too much debt, overspending, lifestyle inflation, or lack of a budget. Saving money is a habit that can typically be developed by taking simple steps to cut expenses and increase income.

How do you stay motivated to save money?

Without meaningful financial goals, you may lose the motivation to keep saving money. This is especially true if you already have difficulty just covering your regular expenses. Take the time to figure out what you want in the future, and how you can achieve it. Create savings challenges for yourself that will set up a form of accountability and keep you focused.

How can I save more money for retirement?

If you’re a late saver and want to catch up with your retirement fund, you may need to make some drastic measures. Lowering your monthly mortgage payment will likely make the biggest impact on saving for retirement. This could mean either refinancing to a lower rate, or downsizing your home and moving to a more affordable neighborhood. Also, high debt balances can keep you from reaching your retirement goals. If you can, consolidate your balances into one low-interest loan. Be sure to avoid creating more debt by sticking to a budget and living within your means.

Which retirement savings plan should I use?

Take advantage of the employer-sponsored retirement plan at your job. If they offer matching benefits, be sure to contribute the maximum matching percentage. Also, you can open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for additional tax-favored savings.

How can I force myself to save money?

One of the best strategies for saving money is by automating your contributions. You can choose to direct-deposit a percentage of your paycheck into your employer-sponsored retirement account, so it’s removed before the income hits your checking account. You can also set up automated transfers into your savings account through your bank’s online transfer tool. In this way, you can “force” yourself to save by removing the choice.

Don’t forget to download this FREE Money Saving Plan so you can start turning your saving struggle into success!

 

Improve your financial health by learning to save money

Saving money can sometimes be difficult.

This is because saving money is a habit, and habits take a while to develop.

If it’s a struggle for you, spend some time reflecting on the reasons behind it. Pursue some awareness of what’s holding you back from saving money and improving your financial health.

  • 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 annual 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. Just take that first step.

No matter when you start, you can learn to save and manage money like a boss. So, shed the shame and grab the wheel. Remember – one small step at a time, over time, can lead to tremendous results.

It’s time to take control.

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Why Is It So Hard To Save Money? 15 Tips To Make It Easier

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