My friends and family think that because I run a blog called Northern Cheapskate, it somehow means I’m a money hoarder with a big stack of cash hidden away.
The truth is that I struggle with finding ways to save money just like most folks do. There are times when it seems like just when we’re making progress on a savings goal, something comes up and puts us right back at square one. There are times when I look at my budget and discover that there’s more month than money.
What I have come to realize is that there are reasons why we can’t seem to save money.
Why We Can’t Seem To Save Money
Whenever we struggle with saving money, it seems to be caused by one or both of the following reasons: how much we spend and how much we earn.
We spend too much money.
In a culture where the media and everyone is telling us to “BUY NOW!” it is very easy to overspend. We seek out expensive pleasures like concerts, travel, or dinners out. We buy ourselves new clothing or electronics. We sign up for all kinds of services (gym memberships, Netflix, Spotify, cable TV, etc.) without thinking about how those automatic withdrawals from our checking accounts really affect our bottom lines. We’ll let ourselves be pressured into spending money when we know we can’t afford it – whether it’s spending a night out with friends or supporting a nephew’s school fundraiser. We drive cars we can’t afford to jobs we don’t enjoy. We don’t plan ahead for paying for things because we’re busy spending in the moment.
And the whole time we will defend our overspending. We will give reasons for every expenditure we make. We will say we deserve to treat ourselves. We will say there is no other way. We will tell ourselves that everyone does it, so it’s okay. We deserve better.
Take a good hard look at every single thing you spend your money on. How much of it is really necessary? There are a lot of things we spend money on that we think are needs, but are really just conveniences. They may make things easier, or improve our quality of life, but the reality is that if we can’t afford them, we need to figure out ways to either pay less for them or eliminate them from our budget altogether. And there are many things that we simply overpay for. A regular review of all your bills (especially things like insurance and cell phone bills) can help you find savings.
The number one rule to being able to save money is simple. We have to spend less than we earn. If we’ve been honest about our spending and cut everything we could from our budget and we still can’t find a way to save money, then we have another problem.
We don’t make enough money.
Sometimes the problem isn’t our spending. Sometimes our problem is our income. We may live in places where the cost of living is higher, or we may be unemployed or underemployed.
If you’re making all your meals at home, shopping the thrift stores, using coupons, canceling cable, using the library, kicking bad habits, and doing whatever you can to do things on the cheap, and you’re still struggling to save, then it is time to figure out a way to increase your income.
You could start by looking around your home for things to sell online, through Craigslist or Facebook, on consignment or in a garage sale.
You could find ways to make a little extra cash online in your spare time like using Swagbucks, Mechanical Turk, Fiverr or taking online surveys.
You could take on a side gig in addition to your day job – like babysitting, pet care, housecleaning, music lessons or yard work. Use your professional skills to find freelance work.
You could talk to your boss about a raise or working more hours. You could look for a new job that pays more.
There are many options out there for increasing your income, and you can certainly use a combination of them to help you reach your savings goals.
How Badly Do You Want To Save Money?
The real question to ask yourself is “How badly do you want it?” What sacrifices are you willing to make to save money? What steps are you willing to take to ensure you’re bringing in more money than you’re spending?
It is only when we are completely honest with ourselves about why we can’t seem to save money that we can begin to come up with real solutions.
American Dreamer says
It is all about how strongly you want to save money. Saving and increasing my net worth are very important to me. So I don’t go to malls because you will always see something that you want. Shopping catalogs are thrown in the recycle bin on the way in the door from the mailbox. I don’t spend much time looking at deal sites unless there is something I am looking for a deal on. I totally do not watch commercials.
As I have shown on my blog, I am hoping to save $50,000. this year to invest and I am on a roll to do it.
I wish you luck on your savings travels. It’s not easy but it is doable.
Christina @ Northern Cheapskate says
Thanks for sharing your tips! It’s a lot easier to save when you can avoid the temptation to spend in the first place. I’ve always thought of money-saving goals like a marathon – It’s going to be really tough, at times you’ll want to quit- but if you just keep pushing, the reward is so great. Best of luck on your goals!
Final Salary Transfer says
Great article Christina!
I completely agree that this is all about about will-power and knowing what you WANT rather than what you NEED. The internet has opened up a whole new ball game with discount sites and comparison sites, making the process quicker and easier. But, as American Dreamer said, you definitely need to make sure you don’t start buying things just because there is a deal on them.
Where we live (New Jersey) is so expensive! It is SO expensive to try and save money when the rents here are $1400 for a one bedroom apartment! Buying a house is even worse.
We are finally leaving this year and not looking back. Hopefully, our money will go further somewhere else.