I started work when I was 16 years old and I began saving money shortly after. My parents always set a good example when it came to saving money. Growing up, they always lived within their means. They always tried to put money away for a rainy day, but they also celebrated their success with more expensive treats when necessary.
When I started working, I created my own method of saving money to follow their lead. My method worked extremely well when I was 16, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve had to modify my strategy. Each person will need to figure out a technique that works for them when it comes to finances. These tips will hopefully get you started in the right direction!
How I Started Saving Money
Like I said, I started saving money when I first started working. At the time, bills were minimal. I paid for my car insurance, my gas, and coffee or lunch with my friends. Each time I got paid, I made a goal to transfer 35% of my earnings into savings. That may seem like a lot, because it is. Realistically, when you have more bills you won’t be able to transfer that much. However, at the time it worked well for me and allowed me to pay my bills and still have some spending money.
Then, I went away to college. Monthly bills immediately changed. Although my parents provided financial support, my expenses still increased. I bought things I needed to go away to school, but I was also now responsible to buy more of my own food, clothing, supplies, etc. I got a job as a Starbucks barista and tried to follow my same savings strategy. It wasn’t long before I realized that wasn’t going to cut it.
I adjusted my percentage I would transfer each month. That still wasn’t cutting it. Eventually, I stopped focusing on saving money because it just didn’t seem possible anymore. I figured I’d save money around the holidays or my birthday, but that’d be it. College was especially hard because often times, my friends would want to go do something to hang out. Majority of the time, that “something” cost money. College is about making memories and experiences so I didn’t want to say no just so I could save x% of my paycheck. Hence, my new savings method was born just a couple years later.
How I Save Money Now
My new method still prioritizes saving money. It’s also much more flexible and achievable at different points in your life. It goes a little something like this.
Pay your bills, keep some to spend, and save the rest.
First and foremost, always pay your bills. Not paying your bills will do the opposite of helping your financial situation so always prioritize that. Second, save some money to spend. Pick a reasonable amount you can afford (not the remainder of your paycheck) to spend each month or pay period. Everything in life costs money, so it is only practical to keep a portion available for any need. This also prevents getting in the habit of transferring out of savings. Another rule of thumb:
Always transfer money in, rarely transfer money out.
Your goal should be to build your savings. You would then transfer money out for a medical bill, vacation, emergency, etc. It is there when you need it, not to buy that super cute sweater you passed at the mall 😉 . After you pay your bills and keep some money to spend, transfer the rest.
Why My Method Works
My method works for a number of reasons.
It works for all financial situations. The amount you save can be tailored to your specific situation and needs. As long as you pay your bills each month, the rest will come over time. At some points, maybe you need to pick up extra shifts or spend less on personal items, but you can customize the plan to fit your current needs. There is no pressure to save a certain percent each month.
It allows you to spend. If you try to save too much money, you will ultimately be disappointed. You’ll miss out on the events that cost money, you’ll put too much pressure on yourself, and you won’t treat yourself when you deserve it. I’m not saying you won’t ever have to say no to something because it’s too expensive, that’s part of living within your means. But you won’t restrict yourself from going out to dinner, buying that sweater, or going to that concert.
It teaches you how to live within your means. What does living within your means even mean?! Well, that’s the thing. It’s yours so you get to define it. To me, this means paying my bills and saving a little money each month to shop and do things with friends. I’ll admit, I love to shop. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’m addicted to Amazon! I also love going to dinner, concerts, and more with my friends. I allow myself to do those things each month so I don’t feel deprived. Maybe you like to go to the movies so each month you set aside money to see movies. No matter what, your “means” are what you can afford to spend after paying your bills while considering what you should keep to add to savings.
It builds your savings. Lastly, and most importantly you will build your savings. Maybe one month, you only add $10 but the next month you add closer to $200 in your savings account. No matter what rate you add to your savings, you will build it over time. Then, when you have to fix something on your car, pay for a vacation, have a medical emergency, or whatever it may be, you can afford to do so. Hopefully, you can do so without financially burdening yourself.
These tips won’t be the end all, be all for saving your money. It will take trial and error to learn how much you typically spend each month. Your savings will build over time and the pace will vary. You will at some point transfer out of savings for something you most likely do not actually need. However, by implementing this strategy and method you are sure to get in the habit of saving your money. Over time, you will appreciate the money you saved for your future self.
If you have any questions, never hesitate to reach out. Last week I also shared some other savings tips on my Instagram you can incorporate regularly. I hope that by feeling financial stability, you will be more comfortably you.