“I’m never going to save any money! Screw this. I give up. Life’s too short.”
Despite being considered by some a money saving expert after covering this topic for five years, the reality is that sometimes I make statements like that and feel that I just can’t even save a penny.
That has been my attitude far too many times. I want you to learn from me. I want you to have a better life than me. This is why I share my experiences with you.
It happens to me all of the time.
I get hit with an unexpected tax bill or something comes up and all of a sudden, my spending goes through the roof. It feels like saving money is impossible. I wonder why I should even bother with saving when there’s always something new to spend money on.
I can actually remember the first time this happened…
I saved up money like crazy all summer and asked my school to split my payments up. They I agreed. When I went to pay, I was really sad to see thousands of dollars leave my account and go to my school. Even though I saved the money, I was still sad about this.
On the way home, I stopped for expensive dinner. I figured I might as well continue spending money, since my cause was hopeless.
I know that it makes no sense, but when saving money seems impossible, it’s easy to get stuck in this trap.
Then again this happened just last week in Buenos Aires.
A bunch of us went for dinner and we were talking about the exchange rate and how we’re getting screwed for not having US currency. We then grabbed some beers and figured that it was okay to blow money on the more expensive beers because we were already getting screwed on the exchange rate.
This happens too often. This is why I wanted to write a helpful guide for all of us to help us out with saving money when it seems impossible.
How do you save money when it seems to be impossible?
1. Remember that every dollar counts.
This doesn’t mean that you should hold on to your pennies. It just means that if you save $20 today by cooking, staying in, or by performing a freelancing service, that’s $20 that you didn’t have when the day started. You could put this $20 away and see how quickly the dollars add up over time.
Every single expense is important. Saving a buck beats spending a buck foolishly.
2. Pay yourself first.
This is my go-to financial tip. I always pay myself first. When I get paid, I put money aside. This is money that’s saved and hidden from me. I don’t have access to it.
If you pay yourself first, you don’t have to feel too guilty about the other money that you spend.
So go ahead and setup automatic withdrawals from your bank account so that you don’t feel guilty.
3. Accept that things happen.
Life isn’t perfect. Bad things happen to good people.
You can get screwed over for something, or mess up on your own. It happens.
You can cry about it or you can move on.
I’m struggling with this constantly. I have to get better at accepting that I might get ripped off on a cab fare in a foreign country or get hit with an unexpected tax bill. It happens.
4. Life is short, but you shouldn’t be poor.
Yes, I know that life is short.
No, this isn’t a valid excuse for spending every last dollar and being broke.
Saving money seems impossible at times because we’ve been convinced that life is short and this becomes an easy rationale for foolish spending.
5. Work on your problem areas.
What are your problem areas? I don’t believe in trying to get better at one thing. I would rather work on one problem area at a time.
The goal here is: track your spending for a few weeks. See what your problem areas are and work on them. Work on one area at a time.
[Quick tip from Martin: You have to be ready to be a little selfish.]
6. Accept that you’re going to spend more money on certain areas.
I’ve come to accept that I’m always going to be spending the most money on food. I love to eat and I love to eat out. I do try to save money here, but I know that it will never be perfect.
And guess what? I’m cool with that. I work on other areas. I try to make more money. I realize that I won’t be perfect in this regard.
Does saving money get easy?
You see, there’s always something new to buy or some upgrade that we have to have. Working towards financial freedom by 30 isn’t for everyone and that’s cool.
If you want to be free of debt and in charge of your life, then you’re at the right place. If you want an easy fix, there sadly isn’t one.
Saving money never gets totally easy. Luckily, you can put systems in place so that you don’t have to think about money 24/7.
What can you do right now to start saving money?
What happens now? What can you do right away?
- Put your money aside. The best way to save money is to put it away so that you don’t have it at your disposal. We all get lost in the moment. It’s difficult to blow your last paycheck on a weekend if you don’t have fast access to your money.
- Try to make more money. Can you make more money? Can you get another job? Can you start freelancing? The answer has to be yes to one of these.
- Stop stressing about it.There’s no need to lose over it. You’ll slowly get better with money management. Nobody’s perfect.
- Work on one spending area at a time. One problem at a time. You can’t solve it all at once. That won’t happen.
Are you ready to start saving more money? You might just become a money saving expert even if you don’t have your money figured out right now.