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 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.