“Why can’t I save money?” you ask. For those of us who can save, it pretty much becomes a habit. And for others who never seem to save a dime, the habit is to always push a little more when it comes to spending.
Unfortunately, old habits are hard to let go of, even with all the best of new intentions. And making it even harder, saving money is a lot like dieting — so many temptations everywhere!
Then again some of us are stretched so thin already, you just don’t have any extra dollars to put into savings. Even if you are absolutely ready and willing to start building that nest egg.
So what can you do?
Breaking the spending habit
In simplest terms, it’s fun to buy yourself things you want. And not buying things that you want — well, that sucks. So after a while, giving in to letting yourself have whatever you want becomes a habit. After all, life is short and you can’t take your money with you when you go. Or at least that’s what spenders might say.
Stopping yourself from spending often comes with a feeling of deprivation. And it probably triggers similar feelings from oh so long ago when your parents didn’t let you have what you want, whether material goods or affection. But now you can give yourself whatever you want. So why deny?
Well, just maybe because there is another even more life-affecting type of deprivation. Giving in to each and every want today means you won’t have money for that house you want or a retirement free of cat food casseroles. Deciding to change “I need it now” spending habits can provide a feeling of finally being on solid ground — and bring your life into better balance.
And the good news is that you can still find things to give yourself pleasure without it having to sap your savings. Time with friends. Creative low-cost hobbies. Blogging. Walks in nature. Finally letting yourself feel the freedom of not being held back in life by old habits. And feeling the freedom of knowing you will have money if an emergency arises.
It just takes saying “yes” to yourself. Can I start today — right now — to change my life? YES!
Even small changes to begin with
can lead to big rewards later on.
What about those never-ending temptations?
Ah. Temptations are all around. “It’s only just this one time.” But those times multiply endlessly. And when a friend calls to meet at a pricey restaurant or those new shoes seem to know your name, it’s hard to remember anything beyond the moment. And definitely hard to feel tomorrow.
Just like diets where food is everywhere, you can’t simply decide to avoid all temptation. But you can call it by its name, and remember that you have the right to take back control of your life — and your money.
And if you have laid the groundwork by already having cost-free alternatives you enjoy, you can just switch them out. So make sure the alternatives you come up with are really things that are fun. Even if it’s binging on a favorite TV series or luxuriating in a bath with soft music playing in the background.
Each time you switch it out, you strengthen the power of your ability to ride the change. You are also helping your brain rewire itself, so that giving in to each and every spending urge loses its power. And the new habit of rewarding yourself while building a solid financial future grows in strength.
Why can’t I save money? Because I don’t have any!
OK. We’ve spent time talking about how to change your spending habits. But what if it’s just a matter of not having enough money to save or spend? Without any money, none of these tips matter.
So let me divide this into two parts: (1) your debt is so massive it’s burning away any money you make; and/or (2) you have no spare cash because you barely earn enough to meet your basic expenses.
Again, I want to emphasize that I know it’s not easy. And you may backtrack for a while now and then. But I’ve seen serious spenders make the decision to become serious savers — and it can be done.
Some articles to help with your debt
Sources of extra money (short-term and long-term)
- Asking for a raise and / or promotion (until you get one)
- Getting a new job that pays more (even if change is scary)
- Increasing your marketable skills within your own field
- Getting new skills (if needed) and changing your career completely
- Taking a transitional job (even if it pays less) to get you to that next level
- Finding part-time work or freelancing for extra money
- Starting your own business
- Creating things you love that will one day also provide extra $$
A few more thoughts
This article is only a beginning, meant to get you started. You can find your own creative ways to become a saver that best fit your life. Change is more powerful when you help create it.
All you have to do is take that first step now and say “YES!” to change — a choice that will pay you back in more ways than you can imagine. And by all means do whatever you can to make sure you have the support you need!
If that means you have to get professional help for your debt, just make sure you check their credentials carefully — even for non-profits. Also, if friends and family have been part of the temptations, just let them know what’s going on. You have a new “fun” project and need them to help.
BTW … I know this may sound harsh, but anyone who still tries to pull you back into those old habits may be part of the problem. So think hard about who you surround yourself with and how supportive of YOU they really are. (Probably a good thought regardless of spending habits.)
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