I’m Saving Money, But I Still Don’t Have Any!
My husband and I occasionally say, “Someday when we have the money, we will….” This sentence is usually finished with something we would like to have that we hope to buy or some kind of big giving we would like to do. Saying this out loud sometimes helps us remember that we are saving money with goals in mind. We aren’t saving money to hoard it. It also reminds us that our current financial situation is temporary. If we discipline ourselves to “live like nobody else does now,” we may be able to “live like nobody else does later.”
But do you ever find yourself wondering when “later” will come? When will I actually have money saved instead of feeling like my savings is barely growing? Am I saving correctly? How do I know? Here are five ways to check yourself to ensure that you’re still saving money.
Am I Actually Sticking to Budget?
First thing’s first, are you really saving money? This is where it’s time to go back to the budget sheet and make sure that you have savings in order. Make sure that you’re spending less than you’re making and allotting savings properly. If you need some budget help, this post can help you get started.
Looking through your budget, you may notice that you have been overspending in some areas or perhaps you haven’t even been tracking your spending. The mint app and mint.com are my favorite resources for tracking my spending and holding myself accountable. If you find areas where you’ve blown your budget, you’ve probably already found the biggest solution to your problem. Get your budget and spending to align, and you may see those savings start to grow!
Am I Being Patient?
Perhaps your budget and spending are on track, but you still haven’t seen results. How long have you been actively trying to save money? A week? A month? A year? Building savings takes time and patience. It’s kind of like working out and eating right. (I know you REALLY didn’t want to hear that.) You can’t eat salad for a week and work out daily and expect to drop 20 pounds. It took time to become unhealthy, and it takes time to become healthy. In the same way, building savings is a slow process and patience will pay off.
If you find yourself becoming impatient, remind yourself of your goals. Remind yourself of any successes you’ve had like paid off debt, amounts saved, or emergency funds saved to help encourage yourself. If you have friends who are working on financial goals, talk with them and build a support system. Do whatever you can to keep your mind on track. Be patient!
Am I Hoarding?
Reason #3 that you don’t have any money, you’re hoarding your funds. This might seem a little crazy at first. After all, saving is keeping your money and not spending it, right? Healthy saving is not the same as hoarding. You’re stockpiling money for a rainy day and clinging to it with both fists. Sound familiar?
The phrase “you have to spend money to make money” is true (most of the time). Those who invest see a greater return than those who hoard and wait for doomsday. I know how tempting it can be to sit on the precious money you’ve been saving, but it really isn’t the best option. Consider investing and consult an expert. Consider putting a little money into a side job like blogging, lawn service, or cleaning. Spend a little on the side can give you a nice return! ‘
Don’t forget about giving. We’re all guilty of thinking, “I’ll give once I’m in a better place financially.” No, you won’t. If you can’t give a little when you have a little when you have a little, you won’t give a lot when you have a lot. Picture your open hand and money coming in and going out. If you clench a tight fist on your funds, money isn’t going out, but it also isn’t going in. Kindness and generosity will not go unrewarded.
If you struggle with hoarding money, find some ways that you can begin giving and investing on a small scale and build from there. My husband and I have personal goals to give more each year than we did the previous year. We even have a little monthly amount set up just for giving as God puts people in our paths who need something we can provide. Bonus: The feeling you get when you meet someone’s need is incredible, especially if you can do it anonymously.
Am I Giving?
“Wait, I thought you just said that giving was good?” Hear me out, here. Giving in general does mean that you’ll have less of your take-home paycheck to spend or save. However, I am a firm believer that God blesses those who freely give to others, because I’ve seen those blessings in my own life. Sacrificial giving is worth it!
Let’s say, for example, that my husband and I give 12% of our pre-tax income to our local church. That’s 12% that we cannot save or spend for ourselves. That can be huge! We feel burdened to give extra on the side to missions, camps, and other believers who need more than we do. That giving combined with money that we spend on birthday, Christmas, graduation, wedding, and shower probably comes up to about 15% of our income. If giving doesn’t cost you anything, it’s not really giving, is it? We are thankful that we can give some of what we have to bless others, show our love, and help meet needs.
Let’s talk about over-giving. While over-giving is not a problem for most people, it IS a problem for some. A dear friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, struggled with this problem. She grew up in a loving home with very giving parents. Furthermore, her parents had the financial ability to give often and in large quantities. This friend grew up seeing her parents always cover dinners with others, special gifts, coffee dates, etc. When she got out on her own, she followed in their footstep. However, she didn’t make anywhere near their income. Danger! She found herself dealing with guilt if she didn’t offer to buy for others.
If you want to give responsibly, you need to have a good grasp of your finances. You must understand what you have to give. If you’re giving, but you’re not providing for your family’s needs (notice that I said “needs” and not “wants”), then you may need to re-evaluate your giving habits. I encourage you to budget for giving. Allow yourself a certain amount of money for gifts per month. When the money is gone, you must wait until the next month to give any more. This can be a good way to start, and you can adjust your amount and your habits as you figure out what you are capable of giving. For more about giving, check out this post.
Am I Obsessing?
Maybe you read number 1-4 and thought, “I’m good on all of that. I’m saving, being patient, not hoarding, and giving responsibly. So, what’s the problem?” You’re probably overthinking it. It’s so easy for me to check mint ten times a day to see what transactions have gone through and how much each account has. Couponing can become more than a hobby, and I’ll find myself too obsessed with getting the latest deal E-V-E-R-Y time. Savings accounts and future plans can become little idols. Stop obsessing.
Most people start saving and being financially proactive so they won’t have to worry about money. If you’re constantly stressing about savings and accounts, you’re still worrying about money. Instead of stressing and obsessing, limit yourself on how many times a day you can check your accounts. Find something else to through your energy into like exercise, a hobby, a sport, or family time. Money shouldn’t be the center of your world, and stressing about having more certainly doesn’t help matters.
Don’t obsess. Don’t freak when you have emergency expenses or didn’t save as much this month as you’d hoped. Take a breath. Progress is your immediate goal, not immediate success. In my limited experience, get-rich-quick doesn’t happen for most people, and it’s better that it doesn’t. Your view of money will improve as you learn to be a good steward of what you have, viewing money as a gift to be wisely used.
Hopefully this post helps you evaluate yourself and stay on track with saving money. I wish you the best in pursuing your goals!