Today marks the beginning of America Saves Week. Don’t know what I’m talking about? A lot of people don’t know about America Saves Week, which is a shame because it highlights something we should all be doing more of: saving.
There’s no secret way to save more money or pay down debt, and that can be disappointing. We live in a world of immediate gratification. The minute I have a question I can find the answer with a little help from Google. An Amazon Prime membership means I can go shopping and have my goodies in 2 days time. So when you realize that saving up for your goals and dreams is going to be determined by your spending habits and willingness to sacrifice on your wants for awhile, your instinct is to look for a quick fix. Want to go on a cruise that will cost you $2,000? You’re probably not going to be able to save up for that by next month without cutting back somewhere else.
That’s exactly why we need an America Saves Week. We need to put the emphasis on celebrating the decision to save rather than only focusing on the end result. In a lot of cases, saving is a long-term strategy. Here’s how to stay motivated for success:
1. Make it automatic. Do you pay yourself first? You should. Make a weekly or monthly transfer from your checking to a savings account. Have it happen right after your paycheck comes in and you won’t even notice it’s gone.
2. Make it manageable. When we start out with a goal of saving $10,000 for a down payment or 6 months of living expenses for an emergency fund, we quickly become overwhelmed. Instead, decide on a dollar amount or a percentage of your income you can save every week without drastically changing your lifestyle. When you look at the balance on that savings account 3 months from now, it will be pretty impressive.
3. Consider your debt. America Saves Week is about saving, but if you’re struggling to make the minimum payments on your debts every month, that’s going to be difficul. Do you have high interest debt? Focus on paying that down first, and once you have more breathing room in your budget, start saving as well. You don’t want to save $50 a week only to need to borrow $20 from your credit card to get by.
4. Put it in writing. There’s something about writing down your plan and goals that makes you more likely to act on them. So write out a budget and include savings as a line item.
You work hard and you should always pay yourself first - that’s what saving is all about. We live in a world that is always pushing more at us - more stuff for our closet, our home, our car. A lot of that stuff looks pretty great, and you might find yourself reaching for your wallet. Before you do, ask yourself this...will buying this stuff get me closer to my goals? Will it make me happier tomorrow? If the answer is no, put that wallet away because you deserve better. I’m Claire, the Afena blog mom. Thanks for reading.