To some extent, we all know the basic theory on how to save money.
- (1) Make sure you have one month’s savings.
- (2) Always try to spend using the newest paycheck only.
- (3) Set aside a certain portion of money each month.
Sure, we are all familiar with these textbook answers. However, it’s not uncommon for us not following our saving plans, even though we are aware of the steps.
So, what is the problem? Why does it seem hard to follow these easy steps?
Saving money is helpful in many ways. For example, here is a quick list of 10 practical reasons why you should save money.
But if you are not willing to do it now, there must be a reason.
Let’s try to figure out the reasons why you are spending to the maximum, or sometimes even beyond the maximal limit:
The goals look like wishful thinking and thus seem impossible to achieve
Most people don’t save money because they don’t look far ahead into the future. Therefore, they don’t feel the need to have a saving habit. However, more than half of these people do feel the need of saving money in the deepest of your mind, but they constantly try to convince themselves that saving money is not helpful. Why does one get into this conflict cycle? There are multiple reasons. The major one is that in some aspect of their life, they have some unachievable wishes, and hence there is no sense of a future. Without a target or a goal, they have no reason to push forward. Obviously, there is no magic bullet to make the wish come true. But we can start with breaking down the steps and sub-steps so that we can decide if it’s a possible goal or a wishful thought.
It is always very important to work out some sort of long-term goals, for example starting with a 5-year or 10-year goal. In order to get oneself to look into the future, one has to believe there is a future. Sometimes, things may look impossible in the beginning, but when you work out the sequence, maybe there is actually a path to this target. Also, during this process of exploration, you may see other possibilities. Sometimes, your goal may change along the way, but that doesn’t mean compromising to a lower standard, although that (in itself) is a possibility too. Once you have a plan for the future, saving money becomes easy, because it will become a part of that plan and you will be able to act on it without hesitation.
Stay stuck and keep looking in the past
This situation often happens because of a loss of some kind. The effect is usually bigger if the loss is bigger.
The first step that needs to happen is the most difficult step of this scenario, which requires your actual objective observation to realize the fact that you are in stuck in your current situation. This is a lot easier said than done. Galaxies are clusters of stars, yet the Milky Way (our galaxy) is a band of faint light. When you are in the situation, it is often difficult to see the direction of light and get out of the situation.
Always remember that it’s helpful to talk to someone. Regardless if you believe you are stuck in the past or not, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to someone. When you start to consider opening up to that person, even if you don’t, you may be weighing all the things that you are considering opening up to them. It’s important to hold onto these thoughts because this allows you to start to see the true reflection of yourself in the mirror. Now you can objectively evaluate yourself.
Once one can admit that they are looking in the past, then they can have a chance to move forward. From this point onward, it is actually easier, because you have already recognized the problem. A quote a TV show I’ve watched (House M.D.) have been staying in my mind all these years: When a character said “I’m stuck… I don’t know how to get unstuck.”, and the response was “The only wrong thing to do is nothing.”
Can’t get out of the current spending habit
Another reason for not being able to save money is the competing factor: the current spending habit.
This can be as unhealthy as a gambling problem. It can also be a lesser problem like eating out too many times a week or a semi-serious problem like having a trend-following ego.
For each problem, in order to break the cycle, one must no longer think that the “addiction” is the most important thing of life. For example, in the case of gambling, the likelihood is that one is thinking that it is the only escape, either emotionally or financially. For the case of eating out, maybe it’s the belief that this is the best way to reward oneself.
Think about other alternate stress-coping methods.
Slowly work your way towards focusing on your goals.
Step by step, you can work your way out of the wants that are driving towards these addictions. Maybe start by saving a little bit of money every month, maybe $50 a month.
In fact, think about it this way. For not going deeper into debt, it is already a win, which will also give you the satisfaction ultimately. For some quick suggestions, you can also find a list of easy positive stress-coping strategies in one of my previous articles (Click here to read it). When you start switching your stress-coping method, you will start to feel more satisfied than the happiness from spending money.
Always Remember W.H.Y.
Be Well, Be Happy, Be You