In almost every article I read about saving money, there are consistent themes woven in. For example, we are encouraged to automate our savings, set goals, utilize a financial app, establish an emergency fund, utilize direct deposit where possible, etc. While I agree with and take advantage of each of these and more, it is important to point out what is NOT being discussed. Listed below are three things about savings that no one likes to talk about and yet are part of the process:
1. IT IS HARD: Saving money is not fun or easy. There are countless distractions and endless ways to spend money you don’t have. If you automate your savings for only one month, you’re not going to get very far in your savings plan. It requires a disciplined approach. A lifestyle filled with lavish spending, maxing out credit cards, etc. will prevent you from saving. Saving money requires us to say “no” to the things we want but may not necessarily need. This is not easy. Currently 2/3 of Americans do not have $500 to cover a basic emergency. Ultimately, by sticking with your savings plan, you’ll get through the hard days.
2. IT WILL TAKE TIME: Saving for an emergency fund, a family vacation, or some other large ticket item requires that you take a slow and steady path. It also means you’ll have to forego some luxuries, like buying the latest tech gadget or designer shoes. Say you want to create an emergency fund of $1,000 and want to accomplish this in one year. It will require that you set aside roughly $83.33 per month. If you want to take your family on a vacation next year, plan on saving at least $4,500 — the average cost for a family of four. To have that amount in 12 months would require a monthly savings of $375.00. Don’t give up on your saving goals but be aware that saving money is not a “get rich quick” plan. It is a deliberate and intentional path that, if travelled, will get you to your goals. Stay on the path, regardless of how much time it takes.
3. IT REQUIRES YOU TO SET YOUR OWN GOALS: In our social media driven world, it is easy to look at our 1000+ friends and think “they must have it better than I do.” Avoid comparing yourself to them. Typically, people post and airbrush the positive aspects of their life. What they don’t post about are their sleepless nights due to increasing debt and stress. Focus on the goals you have set for yourself and not what your neighbor or “friends” on social media are doing.