There are countless articles on the internet both in the blogosphere and on finance websites that extol the virtues of saving. Most are focused on giving you a recipe on how much to save in terms of a percentage of your income. For example, most websites tell you to put aside 10% of your income for retirement. Others have a plan, for example 50/30/20 – 50% on necessities, 20% saving and 30% on fun.
But there is a serious caveat to this advice: You have to stick to the budget.
This is tough. Think about it, when it comes to money, when was the last time you actually stuck to a pre-determined spending limit? Never? Me too… well, at least I used to have this problem too. So let’s talk about how to change that.
The typical excuses as to why someone can’t stick to the budget goes something like this: “I have to go out once a week to see my friends.” “I can’t stick to my budget because Christmas was expensive.” “Well John’s birthday is coming up and I have to buy him something special.” “I really want that new game coming out for the Xbox.”
Well to this I say, “No.”, “No.”, “No.”and “NO!” That’s what sticking to your budget really means: saying no to lots and lots of social pressure and temptation. No, your friends don’t need to see you at that expensive bar or restaurant. You can go on a free hike at the nearby park. You can buy a sandwich and eat in the grass. Better yet, pack the sandwich and make it just like you prefer.
No, Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s easy to slip while the ads are flying, but seriously, no one really needs a that new shiny gadget. What they need is time with you. And guess what they don’t have while you’re making money to pay for that big beautiful present? You guessed it: time with you!
No, John doesn’t care if your present was bigger than last year. John is your friend, boyfriend, husband, and all he wants to do it sit on the porch and talk to you – sling a few rounds about what’s new and what’s going on in life. So save your money. Buy him a nice card, write a thoughtful message to say how much he means to you and spend a few hours with him.
No, you do not need that new game for our Xbox. See, we are creatures of excitement. We crave the adrenaline rush we get from the new toy or adventure. But do we really need it? Put it on a list. Tell yourself you will buy it next month. Then next month look at the list and see if you really still need it.
The thing is: saying No is hard. It’s very hard. In fact we are trained to say yes.
Think about it: when you were little and your parents asked you to do something, could you say no? How about when your teacher asked you to do something, could you say no? What about when your friends asked? Did you feel like you had to to fit in?
Unfortunately, you are now an adult, or hopefully at least nearing this. And while nobody was looking, it became your job to say No. For example, remember when you asked your mom to buy that little airplane. The one you were going throw exactly twice and forget about? What did she say? No? Well that’s because it was her job.
And now that you are an adult, it’s your job to say to No – to yourself, to your friends, to your parents, to the world. No, I will not do what you asked me and I will not spend money unless I truly believe that this is something I want to do.
Now I’m not saying this will come easy. Think of saying No as a muscle you haven’t exercised in a while. But with some practice you will begin feeling better about saying No and eliminating wasteful spending.
So that’s it. The way to save more is simply to start saying No to temptation and social pressure.