How to save for the future is one of the most common problems my readers ask for help with. It’s especially difficult to save for the future when you live paycheck to paycheck like the majority of people do these days. In today’s article, I’ll cover why it’s so hard for most people to save money, and how you can start saving more than you thought you could, even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and don’t think you can save any money at all.
What if You Don’t Make Enough Money to Save?
One of the most popular excuses for not saving for the future is “I’m living paycheck to paycheck, I don’t make enough money to start saving”. The problem is, in most cases that’s not a valid excuse, even if you live paycheck to paycheck.
How much money you make is not the issue, it’s how you use your money that counts.
I know people that make so little I don’t know how they survive, but they still put money into savings every month. On the other end of the spectrum, I know people making well into six figures that tell me they can’t save a dime.
It’s the proper mindset and money management skills that make the difference.
Your Money Mindset Matters
Your ability to save for the future is only going to change if you change how you think and act with money. To save for the future successfully, it’s crucial that you have the right mindset.
There will always be naysayers who say things like:
- The system is rigged
- You can’t get ahead
- You’ll always live paycheck to paycheck
You have to fight that negative attitude along with that voice in your head that says you just can’t do it. The fact is, people do it every day. Even people that are living paycheck to paycheck.
Stay positive and know that it can be done.
If you want to save for the future, you have to believe today is the best day to start. Waiting until you get a raise or life slows down a little just kicks the can down the road farther, keeping your savings goals perpetually out of sight.
Here are some of my best articles on how to develop the right mindset with money:
Why is it So Hard to Save Money for the Future?
There are always barriers to saving money for your future. But when it comes down to it, saving for the future has to be a priority or you’ll never do it.
Unless you get emotional about it and decide that tomorrow is just as important as today, you’ll never be able to save for the future.
This means you have to do some very specific things if you want to make saving a priority, such as:
- Making sure you know the difference between wants and needs.
- Cutting expenses on many of your wants.
- Finding ways to make more money to put directly into savings.
- Not increasing your lifestyle when you get a raise.
- Make a plan for saving money.
- Anything else that frees up money to put into savings.
You Have to Have a Plan for Saving Money
If you’ve had problems saving for the future, part of the reason may be that you don’t have a plan. Most people get paid, pay the bills, and spend the rest, with no real plan in place for how to save for the future.
We’ve all been there- you get to the end of the month and you don’t have money to put into savings. You scratch your head and wonder where all the money went.
A Zero-Based Budget Works Best
The best plan you can have is a zero-based budget that you do every single month. A good budget prevents all that head scratching!
The reason a budget works so well is that you do it after you get paid, but before you spend any of the money.
With a budget you spend the money on paper before you spend it in the real world. Therefore, you have the power to decide how much to put into savings, instead of wondering where all your money went and getting stressed out because you think you can’t save any money.
More Tips to Save for the Future
Make Saving for the Future Automatic
One of the best things you can do to save for the future is to make your saving automatic. Saving money automatically simply means that you have a set amount deducted from your bank account (or your paycheck) every month and sent to a savings or investment account.
Most financial experts (including me) recommend saving 15% of your paycheck.
Since the money is automatically deducted, you don’t miss it! The money starts adding up so quickly you’ll be amazed you didn’t use this little trick before!
Saving money automatically is easy to set up through your bank or your investment broker.
Increase Your Income
Find ways to make extra money that you can put directly into savings. Even a modest side gig can help you save $200 a month, making a huge difference in how much savings you can accumulate over time!
I’ve written tons of articles on how to make extra money, which you can find at the link below:
Set Goals for Your Savings
Set a goal for how much you want to have saved by a certain date. Once you know how much you want to save, divide that number by the number of months until that date. Then you’ll know how much you need to save each month to reach your goal in the future.
Setting savings goals has a great motivational effect. The more you see your savings add up, the more motivated you’ll be to continue.
Keep Up With Your Progress
Another great savings motivator is to find visual ways to keep up with your savings progress. Here are a few examples you can use:
- Make a grid with enough squares to represent the number of months it takes to reach your goal. Fill in the squares as you make progress toward your savings goal
- Print out a savings thermometer and color it in to mark your progress.
- Put a marble in a jar for every $50 you save toward your goal and watch them fill the jar over time.
If you can actually see the progress you’re making every day, it’s easier to be reminded of your goal and the progress you’re making. You’ll be able to stay more motivated over a long period of time.
You can set goals easily and manage all your finances in one place using the powerful tools at Personal Capital. Learn more about Personal Capital here.
Save for the Future Now- It Comes Sooner Than You Think!
Saving for the future is a lot like raising children. When your children are very little, it’s hard to imagine that one day they will grow into an adult. Adulthood is so far away it doesn’t seem real.
Later, when your children reach adulthood, you wonder how it happened so fast!
Saving for the future happens that way too. In 20 years will you be amazed at how much money you’ve been able to save? Or will you be seriously disappointed that 20 years went by so fast and you’ve got nothing to show for it?
It’s your choice…
Question: Got any good tips for saving money that have helped you? Leave a comment and tell us your favorites.