Saving for the future isn’t easy, especially when credit card payments and high utility costs start hitting after the holidays. Sometimes, the idea of saving money can feel downright daunting.
We understand. Life isn’t always easy.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t change your future for the better. This year (and the next one) will be what you make of it. That may mean moving away from a paycheck-to-paycheck mentality and moving toward a saver mentality.
Even if it’s a struggle to find the money to pay for your family’s wants and needs right now, you can always cut back and ramp up your income. The momentary pain of living on less will be nothing compared to the thrill of paying for your next car with cash, watching your emergency fund grow, or kicking your retirement up a few notches.
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Your ability to save for the future is only limited by your determination. So, believe in yourself and don’t listen to that negative voice in your head. And don’t wait until you’re making more money or until life slows down. Do it now. Today is always the best time to start.
Why Is It Hard to Save Money?
We all know we need to save for the future, but most people don’t save like they know they should. Why? Because we have competing goals. The goal to save isn’t a high enough priority to delay the purchase of that pizza, DVD player, smartphone, or couch. So, we consume all our dollars away or, worse yet, go into debt to buy all this stuff.
Make Saving for the Future a Priority
You’ll only save money when it becomes an emotional priority. That’s where you have to begin.
Too often, people make excuses like: “We just don’t make enough to save any money!” Don’t believe the lie. You do make enough to save money. But you must be willing to quit spending on momentary pleasures. It doesn’t matter what you make—you can save money. It just has to become a big enough priority to you.
Make a Zero-Based Budget
Without a budget, a priority won’t do you much good. You need to give your priority a plan by giving every dollar a name.
That means if you make $3,000 a month, you need to figure out exactly how you’re going to spend $3,000 before the month begins. Divide it however you want between giving, saving, and spending. Use pen and paper or an online budgeting tool like EveryDollar to stay organized.
When you find extra money in your budget (because you cut back on restaurants or gadgets for example), don’t just hope it drifts into your 401(k) or car fund. Put it where it needs to go. If you don’t give it a home, you’ll blow it and end up scratching your head over that missing $100 you thought you had. Be intentional by budgeting before the month begins.
Make It Visual
Visual aids are a great way to pay off debt, but they’re also a great way to stay motivated to meet your savings goals. You can be as creative or as plain Jane as you want about this. The idea is just to keep your progress in front of you.
That might mean printing out a simple savings thermometer and coloring it in every month. Or it might mean letting your kids put a jelly bean in a jar for every $20 you save toward your Disney trip (and eating one, too). When you make your progress visual, it will feel real and give you the motivation you need to skip the coffee shop or work an extra shift.
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