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  • Posted February 19, 2017

Why it’s tough to save (and how to help)

I think most of us can relate to having wondered if we’d be able to save enough for our goals at some point in our lives. For one thing, it can be much more fun to spend than to save – especially with the instant gratification of receiving whatever it is you just purchased. Saving can seem like it takes forever, and it may not look like the money is growing, or it isn’t growing fast enough.

We need to remind ourselves why we’re saving – be it for retirement, a new house or putting our children through college. One way to do this is assign nicknames to the accounts – label it for what you’ll be using the money for. Some of us need more though, so giving ourselves visual reminders of what the money will be used for could do the trick. Why not make yourself a vision board with your top 3 or 4 goals, and put it where you will see it everyday; as incentive to put away a little more and keep you motivated when nothing seems to be going right (and admit it, we’ve all had those days!).

Don’t make all the goals long-term,  you’ll want to add one or two you can accomplish in the next few months, and in the next few  years. This is another trick to keep your motivation up, by rewarding yourself for doing the right thing. Before you know it your spending habits have changed, and you may find you actually enjoy saving money – because it’s now tied to positive experiences, not just ideas or platitudes.

If you’re interested in instituting a change, here is how I would start. Commit to saving an extra $50/month. Pick out something to spend $100 on in 6 months, say a spa day or a trip to Bass Pro Shop; whatever strikes your fancy. You’ll have $200 left over, and you’ll be rewarding yourself for increasing your savings. That $200 should be set aside for a mid-term goal, something you’ll want to do in 4 – 6 years – even if you don’t have anything on your mind right now.

Continue this for the rest of the year, and increase your commitment by $25 – $50 the following year. Eventually (or so I hope) you’ll see the benefit to saving, and you’ll increase the monthly amount on your own. Continue using 1/3 of whatever you save to reward yourself, because at the end of the day you’re saving 200% more than you were before you started this exercise – and I don’t believe we’re meant to live like monks (unless it’s your lifestyle choice).

By planning to spend 1/3 of what you save you’re teaching yourself how to live on a budget. I’d love to believe everyone has the willpower to save “x” amount from every check because it’s the right thing to do, but I’m not naive. We, as human beings, often need encouragement and rewards to delay our gratification. You CAN do it, I don’t want anybody to believe that they “CAN’T” save money.