Saving is hard even in the best of financial circumstances. It’s even harder when you’re living paycheck to paycheck or just starting out your career on a tight salary and budget.
We all know that we need to have savings, so this does take discipline, but it’s not impossible to save when you are living paycheck to paycheck.
1. Start with your “Why?” If you’re hoping to start a savings strategy when things are a little strapped, you’re going to need more motivation than someone just telling you it’s a good idea. Start with really spending time understanding your why. Maybe you want to be able to feel more stable in case of an unexpected expense. Or maybe your savings will help get you on the road to a bigger goal, like saving for that dream vacation, a down payment for a house, or starting a family. Once you’ve got a firm reason in your heart, it will make it that much easier to envision your end goal when you need to make small, but sometimes difficult little sacrifices along the way.
2. Start a Fresh Slate. One of the best ways to hit the reset button on savings goals is to start fresh. Open a new savings account (even better, pick a new bank to do it at.) Sometimes having a separate bank for your savings goals can make it a bit more “difficult” to just quickly move money from savings to checking. Don’t scoff at the piggy bank idea either – Go the manual route and start scraping together change. You really will be surprised at how quickly you can amass even a small opening deposit to get yourself saving in the right direction.
3. Scan your bills like an analyst. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you’ve very likely already got a budget in place and are savvy about where your money goes. (And if you’re not there yet — planning a budget is one of the best ways to start to “make room” in your finances.) With a budget in place, you’ll need to take it a step further. Go through each of your monthly bills and truly look to understand them. Once a week, pick one of your recurring bills and do some research – are you really paying the best premium for your insurance? Are you on the best plan for your medical aid or hospital plan? Do you really need to be ordering 3 cappuccinos a day, or can you take it down to one and make a cup of coffee to take with you in the morning?
4. Pay yourself first. We’ve heard this one time and again, but it really is the first rule of saving. Pay yourself first makes sense for a few reasons, but really about training your brain to save and making it a habit. That means that even in the trickiest of times when the paycheck is the tightest, do your best to still find something to save.
5. Find other income streams. There are two sides to every income equation — saving and earning! If at the end of the day you’ve done everything you can to squeak savings out of your current income, it may be time to consider additional income streams. Sometimes we can get caught up in the ego of feeling like our primary job should be “enough” and that taking on a second stream of work has to be something really profound to be worth it. If you’re ready to make a serious dent in your savings goals and the day job isn’t cutting it, consider how you could add something temporary to your work world to boost your income.
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