Saving Money When You Don’t Think You Can

Lynnae McCoy is a freelance writer, homeschooling mom, and frugal living enthusiast. She writes about frugal living at Being and about balancing work and homeschooling at Freelance Homeschool Mom. When she has a rare spare moment, you can find her on Twitter.

How many times have you heard the following: “I’d like to save money, but I don’t have enough money left at the end of the month to save.” Perhaps you’ve even said those words yourself. I know I have.

Unfortunately with that mindset, you’ll never have enough money to put into savings and neither will I. Saving money requires an attitude adjustment, as well as a change in habits. Here are some tips to get you started.

Make Savings a Priority

You’ve probably heard advice that you should pay yourself first, and that’s true. The reason a lot of people can’t save is that they pay all their bills first and have nothing left.

Realize that if you continue to live in that mindset, you will never get ahead. Your finances will always be at the mercy of someone else. Only when you make paying yourself a priority over other financial desires will you ever get ahead.

Fool Yourself

What would you do if the health insurance you get through your employer went up five dollars a month? You probably wouldn’t drop your health insurance over five dollars, right? You’d find a way to pay it. So pretend your health insurance is going up five dollars every month and have that five dollars automatically transferred into your savings account.

When you get used to living on five dollars less a month, add another five dollars to your savings account each time you get paid. Each dollar will add up, and before you know it, you’ll have $100. Then $200. Yes, it will go slowly, but saving slowly is better than not saving at all. You’re working on changing a habit here, and it’s better to go slowly and succeed than start quickly and burn out.

Use Windfalls to Pad Your Savings Account

Every once in a while you may be in the position to receive some extra money. It might be from a tax refund, an inheritance, or a garage sale. In a situation like this, it’s tempting to spend it on something big that you normally wouldn’t buy. Fight that temptation. Put the money directly into your savings account. You’ll be thankful when you’re not living paycheck to paycheck.

Snowflake Your Savings

Snowflaking is the process of taking little amounts of money and putting them together to create larger amounts of money. For instance, when you drop your change into a jar each night, the change from your pocket isn’t that much. But over the course of a year those “snowflakes” of change can add up to quite a bit.

So save your change, your birthday money, your coupon savings and your Rite Aid rebates and put them into your savings account. By the end of the year, you might be surprised at how much you are able to save.

One thing is for sure. You’ll never have a substantial savings account if you never actually start saving money. Even if you’re only saving five dollars a month, you’ll have five dollars more in your savings account than you had last month. Eventually it will add up.