Stop Sacrificing but Start Saving and Spending Smarter

It seems that all of us are having to make some changes to our daily routines to adjust to the changing economy. One day it’s up, the next day it’s down. One day “we’re coming out of the recession,” the next day “it could last two more years.” The clowns saying that it’s almost over are the same ones that didn’t know it started (me included!). Either way, learning to save money shouldn’t force you to sacrifice your way of life if you learn how to spend smart. The truth is, you CAN adjust comfortably to the new economic climate.

Why do I need to save?

While this question might seem silly to some, the US has had the lowest rate of personal savings when compared to 19 other major industrialized countries. That’s right, even though it makes perfect sense to save, we don’t!

Compared with the 19 other major industrialized economies, the United States ranks dead last for personal savings. That’s right, in 2003, the United States was the least thrifty nation among the G-20.

That’s an unfortunate fact when savings are so critical, especially when you’re surprised by unanticipated expenses and potential job loss. Additionally, with the decreasing availability of credit, a focus on personal savings has become crucial. When individuals and nations beef up their cash reserves (not hoard), those savings generate capital that can be invested, promoting economic growth and keeping interest rates low.

Why do we fail to save adequately?

  • We spend without thinking. How many times have I run to the grocery store and bought whatever I needed at the moment without regard to a budget? Guilty as charged.
  • We want instant gratification. We’ve grown impatient – from waiting on a download to waiting to get seated at Applebee’s to waiting on rebuilding our credit score – we don’t want to wait.
  • Saving is kinda boring and we want to ONLY see increases in our accounts, and big ones at that. Small increases in interest or capital appreciation just aren’t that exciting.
  • We think we can start saving “as soon as the kids start back to school” or “as soon as I start that new job” or “as soon as my next raise comes through.” In reality, we probably won’t, yet we lie to ourselves and make yet another promise we know we won’t keep.

Saving Doesn’t Have to Mean Sacrifice

Saving money doesn’t have to mean giving up all of life’s little pleasures. In fact, focusing on the little things may help us save MORE. How many times have you heard (a la David Bach in The Automatic Millionaire) that cutting out your trip to the coffee shop could save you $60 or more per month? But, if you actually enjoy that daily cup of coffee, you could just as easily save that money by watching a DVD instead of going out for dinner and a movie, or consolidating your grocery trips and sticking to a budget, or learning to cook your favorite restaurant meals at home (Google it, there are tons of sites to help you learn to cook!). In many ways, those changes are much easier to stick with than sacrificing a cherished coffee break. And isn’t that more important?

To help your savings account get on figurative steroids, make saving automatic and you’re far more likely to keep at it and far less likely to feel the sting. It’s the old “Pay yourself first” rule and it works! If you are able to have part of every paycheck directly deposited into your savings account or even into an interest bearing checking account, you’ll hardly notice the difference.

Another way is to be frugal with what you otherwise might have considered “found” money. Your tax returns, for example, are a great source of money that can be saved for when it’s needed. You worked hard for that money, and it’s important to spend it wisely.

Taking simple steps could save you big without having to sacrifice your way of life.

Check out these other savings resources:
17 Sneaky Savings Strategies
How To Save Money – The 1001 List Of Money Saving Tips And Ideas
The Ultimate Collection Of Money Saving Tips: 122 Ways To Trim Your Budget
75 Painless Money-Saving Tips

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