Saving money can be a frustrating process. I’ve been there. You manage to get a good lump sum saved, then your car craps out and you end up draining your savings and still having to put part of the repairs on your credit card.
It can feel really disheartening when this happens. It’s tempting to throw in the towel and give up on saving money altogether. But imagine if you hadn’t saved that lump sum. You’d owe even more money to the credit card company.
Try and turn those thoughts around. I know it’s hard, especially now, during a time when things feel bleak economically. But don’t give up. Everything in life starts small at first. If you can only save a little right now, then do that. When I hear people giving up on their finances, I want to tell them, “No. So what if it’s only a little? It’s still something!”
So . . . What If?
Let’s answer the question: What if you can only save a little? If we were having a real-time conversation, I’d congratulate you. Saving any amount of money is a huge accomplishment. It shows you are thinking about the future. Stop worrying that it’s not enough or it’s not the amount you had planned to save. It’s still something.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “Every bit helps.” So, what are some small ways you can save money? That’s right, think about the little things. People always say to think big, and I recommend that too, but today we’re thinking small.
Small ways you can save money that will add up over time:
- Whenever you have change in your wallet, empty it into a jar, and don’t touch the jar until a year has gone by,
- If you skip on an “extra” you would normally buy yourself, put the cost of the extra into your savings account,
- Choose a small dollar value you know you’ll be able to afford each paycheck, and set up an automatic transfer to your savings account so you don’t have to think about it!
You may want to read the post I wrote about what you can do to solve your money problems today. It includes ways you can eliminate excess spending to save money.
Starting a Saving Habit
Bad habits are hard to give up. What if you created a saving habit that was equally hard to give up? It’d be easy to save money, right? A habit is consistent and self-reinforcing. We’ll talk about consistency next, but let’s focus on what would be self-reinforcing.
Seeing money in your savings account!
Any money, not just a crazy large amount that you have in your head. One reason people give up too quickly when it comes to saving money, is they’re frustrated they aren’t saving enough. So, if your savings account has a balance of five dollars in it, you need to celebrate that instead of thinking of it as “not enough.”
Five dollars again and again over time, will add up. Now, let’s talk about how you can be consistent with your saving habit so you’ll see your money accumulate over time.
Consistent Saving Habits Add Up
The key with consistency is a savings amount you won’t miss at an interval that makes sense with the flow of money into your bank account. In his book Automatic Millionaire, David Bach talks about setting up a savings plan where the money comes out of your bank account the instant your paycheck goes in, so you don’t even miss it.
Thinking about your paycheck or other source of money coming into your bank account, what makes the most sense for you when it comes to the timing of putting money into your savings account? Daily, weekly, or monthly?
If a savings account isn’t your thing, a jar stashed in a secret hiding place works too. In that case, you’ll need to figure out when you’re going to add the cash to your jar. Will you go to the bank on the day you receive a deposit and take out the amount you plan to save so you can put it in your jar as soon as you get home?
Congratulate Yourself so You Keep Going
A major strategy for breaking bad habits is positive reinforcement of the good habit that’s replacing it. This can be tricky when it comes to money, because we often want to buy something as a way of celebrating. Think of all the ways you can congratulate yourself without buying anything.
Here are a few ideas:
- Journal about how excited you are that you’re creating this new habit,
- Call a supportive friend that will congratulate you and cheer you on,
- Take some time for yourself to relax with a favorite book,
- Put on your favorite song and dance around.
The more excited and happy you feel about saving money, the more you’ll keep doing it!
Affirmations can be a big help when it comes to building new habits. You’ve likely created a money mindset for yourself over the years where you’ve learned it’s only worthwhile to save hundreds or thousands of dollars (whatever this is for you). But hundreds or thousands of dollars had to start at one dollar.
It will take time to reset your beliefs so you’re not so hard on yourself when you see that you have $35 in your bank account instead of $350 or $3500. Here are some affirmations to help you create a positive mindset regardless of the amount you’re saving.
- I save money whenever I can.
- Saving money makes me happy.
- When I save a little, I have a lot.
If you have a specific savings goal in mind, you can also adjust your affirmations to be more specific to reflect that. For example, if you are working on saving $1,000 for a new stove you could try something like: This dollar is one dollar closer to getting me my stove. Insert whatever your regular saving habit amount is in the place of “one dollar.”
What are some ways that saving a little is worth a lot?
This prompt is about more than the dollar value of the money you save. Think of all the ways that setting aside just a little money consistently could have really big benefits for you. Imagine your future self as you are experiencing all the benefits that money is providing for you.
How is saving a little money better than saving no money?
For this prompt, I want you to recognize that saving anything is amazing! List all the ways you can think of that having a little money is better than having no money at all. You can turn this into a gratitude prompt, imagining your future self thanking you for all the money you saved.
How do you feel when you put money aside for future purchases?
When it comes to manifesting great things, whether it’s money or other things you desire, it’s important to feel the happiness it brings you. Journal about how amazing it feels to know you have money in your bank account for whatever you need because you set it aside and saved it for when you would need it.
While it may feel like saving money is an uphill battle sometimes, it’s important to shake off those negative vibes, and congratulate yourself for any amount you save. The Law of Attraction says we call into our lives what we focus on, so think about how your savings will add up to a lot of money one day if you’re consistent and stick with it.
Have you read this Money Matters article? *Should You Get Help Getting Your Finances Back on Track?
Please comment below on how this Money Matters column has helped you.
Also, leave your suggestions for future topics you'd like to see discussed.
Author bio: Michelle Cornish is the author of Prosperity Planner: Manage Your Personal Finances and Get Out of Debt, an undated planner where she shares more about her personal financial journey and her TREE Method for keeping her personal finances in check.