Quit Trying to Save Money

How to finally save money for realHave you been trying to save money for years without success?

Maybe something always seems to come up, and you never quite manage it on a regular basis. If so, it’s time to quit trying to save money.

That’s right. Quit trying to save money.

What that means

I’m not suggesting that you just go ahead and spend every penny you’ve got.

But when you keep trying and trying to do something without success, by definition whatever you’ve been trying isn’t working.

It can be hard to step back and realize it, because it’s human nature to think that next time will be different. Chances are, it won’t.

Unless YOU do something different in order to succeed.

So reverse things

Instead of buying groceries, getting gas for your car, paying bills, doing a few fun things, and then trying to figure out how to save money, reverse things.

That’s what I did. I no longer try to save money. Instead, I go ahead and save it. FIRST and always.

In my particular case, I was behind on retirement savings, so I had 30% of my check sent to retirement automatically each pay period. I didn’t get that money at all, so I didn’t have to “try” to do anything with it. It just went where I wanted it to go. Same goes for other types of savings.

It can work the same for you, with the amount you decide on. How?

It’s all in how you think about it

You never hear of anyone “trying” to buy groceries every month and somehow just not getting it done because “something just keeps coming up”, right?

No, of course not.

Groceries are a priority, and you successfully buy groceries each month if you’ve got the money at all.

Savings can work the same way once you get your financial house in order. Often setting aside money for savings IS a critical step toward getting your financial house in order.

How to quit trying and start doing

If you want to save money, first decide what you’re going to be saving for.

Is it an emergency fund? (If so, define what you’ll consider an emergency in writing.) Is it for college? Retirement? A vacation? Christmas?

Figure out how much you want to have in the account. Whatever you’re saving for then becomes the only thing you can use that money for. Commit to what you want.

Next, go set up an automatic savings plan somewhere right now and start your saving. I use Capital One, but pretty much every bank will let you set up a plan like that.

Get started

Start by saving a percentage of your take home pay. If you want to save 3% and you bring home $1,000 per pay period, that’s $30 each time you get paid.

But don’t wait til the end of the month. Have it sent away automatically so you never even see it, or immediately transfer the money yourself before you do anything else. If 3% seems like too much, start with 1%. Or $5. Or $1. It doesn’t matter much.

Just don’t pick some overly optimistic amount, like whatever you’d been trying to save previously. Instead, pick an amount that you know for a fact you can save and not touch. Ever, until the event comes to pass that you decided the savings account was going to be for.

After 3 months, revisit the amount you’ve been saving automatically and increase it just a little bit. Repeat until you’re at an amount that seems good to you.

You CAN succeed at building savings. And it’s fun, once you get going. Get started today and reap the benefits.

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5 comments

  • Sage advice. I should probably do this more. I’m always about trying to maximize my amount I can put to debt, so I wait to see what I have. Maybe I should pay my target amount first, and then if I can save extra pay that as well. It will feel good knowing my target is met, and when I make the extra payment, feel even better!

  • I couldn’t agree more. Stop trying and just do it! Saving at the start of the month will force you to make it work in a way that waiting until the end never will.

  • I’m always about trying to increase my quantity I can put to debts, so I delay to see what I have. Maybe I should pay my focus on quantity first, and then if I can preserve additional pay that as well.

  • Excellent advice. Setting up an automated plan means the money’s gone before you even see it (like taxes) so you save it before you have the chance to spend it.

  • Love this. I don’t know why more people don’t do it! As soon as I get paid by my job I pay all may major bills (rent, utilities etc.), then I transfer the amount I want to save into my savings account and then I know that what I have left over after this is what I have to live on. Easy!