As a financial advisor, I hear these complaints all the time:
- “We WANT to save, but once we pay our bills, there’s nothing left!”
- “Gee whiz…with inflation like it is, how are we supposed to find money to put aside?”
- “We’ve slashed our spending, but still can’t sack any money away! What should we do now?”
All of these comments reflect a faulty mindset.
They are looking at the “savings problem” from the wrong end of things.
You see, it’s all but impossible to cut back when you see everything you buy as “essential.” You can waste a lot of time crunching numbers with one hand and clutching all that stuff “I-can’t-live-without!” in the other.
This explains why, as Forbes recently reported, “personal savings only accounts for 4.1% of disposable personal income as of April 2023.” And how in 2022, “Americans were able to save roughly $2,010 per person.”
Those meager figures are hardly the path to financial wellness.
So, how can you buck the trend and make saving a priority? What can you do?
Begin at the end.
You need to save 15% of your gross income. But let’s take baby steps and start with just 10%. Ten percent of your gross income.
Let’s say you earn $72,000 per year. That means you need to save $7,200 annually, or $600 monthly.
Before you do anything else, you pay your savings account that amount.
But, instead of figuring out how to FIND $600 monthly AFTER spending $6,000 (that math won’t work!), you set aside that $600 first and figure out how to get by on $5,400.
(By the way, consider that not long ago you were actually earning 10% less than you are making today…and somehow you survived!)
“But,” I can hear you say, “Groceries! Gas! School supplies! Utility bills! Car payments!…”
I know. I know. But in a sincere effort to help you, I’m going to ignore all of those common economic moans and groans and ask you to look more closely in the mirror.
You cannot keep buying $5 coffee drinks, eating out five (or more) times a week, splurging on the latest technology, and trading in your vehicle every 3-4 years.
Doing all that and thinking you’ll somehow “find some money to save” by choosing store brand plastic baggies isn’t going to work.
That kind of backwards thinking is what torpedoes most savings plans. It leads to a lack of willpower that results in living beyond your means, buying on impulse, trying to keep up with the neighbors, and not having adequate resources set aside for emergencies.
When people tell me they “can’t find the money” I never think they’re lying. No, indeed! I know they are speaking the truth—they cannot find the money.
That’s because they’re not serious about saving.
When you’re serious about saving, you don’t try to “find” the money. You TAKE that 10%—by force and off the top. You treat savings like a non-negotiable bill. That payment gets priority treatment. You pay your savings account first.
Look, I know you are going to spend 100% of your income. And I know it is all going to be for good and justifiable things.
So, what I want you to do is change the way you see that 100%. I want you to save 10% first, and then spend 100% of what is left over on all the other stuff.
You’ll never know how effective this is until you try it. Let me warn you: You will not be able to make the math work out ahead of time.
But once you start, you’ll be amazed at how creative you become. And you’ll see how certain “essentials” aren’t so necessary after all.
Get serious about saving.
Down the road you’ll be seriously glad you did.
And know this: If you choose NOT to save, you will one day face serious regret.
One final question around this serious matter of saving more…
As you’re setting aside money for the future, what’s your plan for turning those assets into retirement income?
If you don’t have one—or don’t have one you feel good about—email me at email@example.com. I’ll send you a link to take the RISA® Profile for FREE. (RISA® stands for Retirement Income Style Awareness®.) This quick and ingenious quiz can help you create a retirement income plan that makes fiscal sense and is a good fit emotionally. (You don’t want to spend your retirement fretting 24/7, right?)
Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.