For most of the nearly twenty years of our marriage, we never had any money in our savings account. Oh, we’d occasionally shove some money into the account for a week or two, but we’d always find a reason to take it out and spend it. Either we’d spend it because we needed it to pay bills (because we spent our bill-paying money on other stuff), an “unexpected” expense would rear its ugly head, or we’d see a “new and shiny” thing that we “needed”.
We read all the advice about paying yourself first, but, you see, that “didn’t apply to us” because we were “different”. We didn’t make as much as others. We had more expenditures than others. On and on the excuses went for many years.
Then we got sick and tired of being sick and tired and began a journey out of debt. Along the way we learned that, guess what: we actually can live below our means and save money!! Eureka!!
Truth be told, we did have many justifiable reasons why we couldn’t save. But that didn’t change the fact that we needed to have a savings account. In my humble opinion, everyone needs to have a savings account, and no, an available credit card balance does not count as an emergency savings fund. I’m talking about real money in the bank that actually belongs to you.
Why a Savings Account is Important
There are many reasons why actual cash that you own in savings is a smarter plan than using your credit card as your emergency fund or foregoing a savings plan altogether.
Major Life Event
In 2010 my husband was laid off from his job. Our one-income family was now a no-income family and we had no savings to speak of. Our solution? Continue to live at our current spending rate and make up for the lack of income by using credit cards. What resulted was tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt that is taking us years to work our way out of.
Trust me when I say you don’t want to go there.
Recommended Reading: The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
Instead, start building a solid emergency savings fund right now in case a job layoff or other major expense comes your way.
Freedom to Follow Your Heart
The thing about having lots of debt and no savings is that when you get sick and tired of working a job you hate and want to start following your dreams, it’s not an option. When you have big debt and no savings, you’re tied to that income, and dream careers don’t necessarily come with a dream income – at least not at first.
By dumping your debt and building a plush savings balance, you put yourself in a position where you can make big changes in life that are more in line with your dreams.
Not Being in Bondage
Debt and a lack of savings equals slavery: slavery to your employer, to the banks and credit card companies that you owe and to working a certain number of hours per week in order to have the money to both cover the bills and have food to eat.
We began our getting out of debt journey because we got sick and tired of being slaves to others. Soon we’ll be in a position where we won’t be tied to our current life of bondage, and honestly, I can’t wait.
Okay, you might say, you’ve convinced me that I need to start saving money. But how? There’s just no room in the budget.
Yeah, we thought that too. But we learned that the number one rule that nearly all experts suggest for building up a plush savings account is:
Pay yourself first and leave the money there.
And now that we’re living by that rule, we’ve learned that it really does work. Even on a tight budget. Because what happens is that when you take your savings amount off the top of your income, you eventually learn to live within your new, lower disposable income. And – double bonus – as you see your savings balance grow, you get more inspired to keep on saving.
Recommended Reading: The Automatic Millionaire, Expanded and Updated: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich
So set yourself a savings goal today and start working toward building that plush savings account. You got this.
What are your best tips for increasing your savings account? What numbers on this graphic surprised you the most?
Image courtesy of: Flickr 401(k)2012
Having a solid emergency fund is my biggest goal. We should be financially ready and stable, actually I’m not a fan of credit card, I still do prefer to use cash.
That’s terrific, Clarrise!! “We should be financially ready and stable”. I couldn’t agree more!
You’re right, until your mindset changes, you can always justify spending – period. I did the same and was overspending my income for years. That’s a great infographic highlighting areas most people can save money.
Around work lately, the conversations have been about saving, and spending less and the first thing I ask people is “Are you tracking your spending?” Almost to a tee, the answer is no. I point out that if they start tracking their spending using Mint or Personal Capital or whatever, they can find those leakage areas you have in that infographic.
It’s all about the mindset and being sick of being broke and wanting to change. If you’re not there yet, though, all the tools in the world won’t help you get there.
Funny – I just had a conversation with one of the gals in my Bible study about that very same thing: tracking spending. She was stunned at what a difference it had made for us. After doing it for 3 years, I can’t believe we ever lived without tracking our spending!
It’s amazing how these little expenses can add up, like coffee and makeup. And how they really add up year after year. And the opportunity cost of avoiding debt to pay for emergencies, or the option to pursue a dream is huge. Great post and infographic!
Thanks, Kalie!! They really do add up. I am amazed when I hear how much women spend on makeup and beauty stuff like manicures and haircuts. I would probably spend more than I do if we were debt free, but I’m betting my numbers would still be lower than most.
That’s a crazy amount of money spend on makeup, ATM fees, and manicures. I’m no where near those amounts, haha!
I know, right? Me too. In fact, I’m writing a post on that soon. I think we’ve been under $80 for beauty-related costs for each of the last three years.
“Pay yourself first” is an excellent rule. I keep hearing my friends in debt who are living paycheck to paycheck that they can’t afford to save when in fact they can’t afford NOT to save. Making saving a priority. Better yet, make saving automatic so you don’t even have to think about it.
“when they can’t afford NOT to save.” We learned this lesson well, Andrew. It’s not easy to put that money into savings each month. Bills and debts cry for our money’s attention. But now that we are seeing the balance in our savings account grow, and feeling the peace of mind that comes with having some money set aside, we’ll never not save again!
I’m not sure all of those are BAD spending habits, like vitamins and of course your cell phone. But $1200 on fast food? No bueno! That will actually cost more in doctor bills in the long run too! Since I’ve been able to save money with the new full time job, I have never felt more peace of mind!
“No bueno!” Funny. :-)I am so happy for you, Tonya, that it’s all working out with your job – what wonderful news!!
I had some young co-workers from my former job that were laid off in 2008. They had purchased fancy trucks, etc. & were laid off several months later when the bottom dropped out. When they were finally called back, there were several that had acquired several thousand dollars of debt & ended up having to get secured credit cards, etc. to get caught back up.
The oldheads had warned them not to get all those fancy toys because of their low seniority, as it’s pretty much expected that the newest workers will get laid off for several months because of business cycles.
It was even harder in 2013 when several of the ones laid off that time were going to be first-time parents.
All that to say, I made sure to get an emergency fund after 2008 of a couple months expenses, and we don’t touch that money.
“The oldheads had warned them not to get all those fancy toys.” The older Rick and I get, the more we appreciate the advice of “oldheads”. We may even be becoming one of them. One of Rick’s very young co-workers recently bought a Corvette, and Rick and the others were like “ooh, not sure that’s a good idea.”. 🙂
What a great infographic. Such an eye opener for someone who doesn’t have a plan for their money. A guess the alcohol is a surprise. I don’t drink beer and don’t drink much in general so $1200 seems like a big amount for me.
Yeah, we don’t drink at all so although I wasn’t surprised by the number (just about everyone in our families drinks) I couldn’t imagine spending that kind of cash on alcohol.
Timeless advice. I can’t believe that some people actually advocate freeing up a lofty credit limit instead of building a solid emergency fund.
(Also, I love the factoid about how a lot of people spend $696 on an unused gym membership. That was totally me five years ago.)
LOL, been there, done that too. 🙂 Now we opt for free weights at home and hikes in the woods. 🙂
We are currently trying to build up our savings and emergency fund. Some months are better than others, but slow and steady wins the race, right? 🙂
Mackenzie, that is awesome!!! So excited for you guys that you are ramping up your savings – great work!!!
Those are some pretty shocking stats. As I looked at that graphic, the one that jumped out at me was food. REALLY trying to get that one down now! It’s the quick visits to the coffee shop that get me.
I hear you, my friend. We used to spend a good couple of hundred dollars a month on drive thru runs. It’s such a quick stop that you forget when you’ve already done it a few times in a week.
Having a savings account is so crucial! I love automating my savings and always finding deals. That infographic has some scary stats!
LOL, especially for ultra frugal people like us. 🙂
Great article, totally agree on the saving strategy, NO debt maybe the next step is to say how to put that money to grow and avoid loosing value on the saved money.
by the way the infographic is great! $2,856 in make up! that scared me, lol that’s crazy a frugal lifestyle.
I hear you, Erik! You’re right on track: dump debt, maximize savings. 🙂
I cancelled my gym membership few years back as I didn’t fully use it. What I do is that I exercise at home and it has been more effective for me as I have lost a few pounds. It’s just about dedication and commitment.
We do the same thing, James. “It’s just about dedication and commitment” – so true!
I am surprised with the dine-out costs! Yay! I would try to lessen it by just bringing my packed lunch to work.
Yes, eating out can be expensive!
Comments are closed.