Instant gratification is part of the world we live in today. Most communities offer drive through services for anything from fast food to pharmaceuticals. We can shop at 24 hour stores, pay at the pump and transfer funds electronically, from our cell phone, at midnight on a holiday weekend. OK- I’m not sure on the holiday weekend part, but I think you get the gist. We have become a people who like to wait for nothing, an attitude which can cause problems for those trying to achieve certain financial goals. With so many people still reeling from the fallout during the recession, the need to slow down and adopt a more conservative approach to finances has been brought to the forefront. This means for the most part, people are putting the brakes on excessive spending as they deal with the consequences of years of buying first and paying later. Fortunately as more people are forced to pay attention to the state of their finances, there appears to be a much needed renewal of interest in saving versus spending money. It is important for consumers “new” to saving money to understand that while the benefits may not be seen immediately, the end result is indeed worth the effort. Here are a few tips to remember when saving money for the future.
• Allow yourself time to change gears- If you have been on spending fast track for years, it will be difficult at first to adjust to a slower pace. Going back to the days before credit cards became popular, people were forced to save money before they made a purchase. Over the years, as credit became more readily available, this practice became almost obsolete. As you adjust to this change in your spending “mentality”, remember in some cases slow and steady does win the race.
• Start slow- If you are dealing with a financial hardship or trying to pay off debt, it may be difficult to find a lot of money to put toward your savings goals. It is important to remember that every little bit helps and even if you are only able to put a few dollars away each week, that amount will eventually add up.
• Build momentum as you go- As you eliminate your debt, you will be able to increase the amount of money you put in your savings. Do not feel tempted to absorb that money in your day-to-day spending. If you lived without it while paying your debt, you can live without it to build your savings.
• Different financial goals require different saving strategies- Once you feel comfortable saving money in general you will be able to fine tune your savings goals. This will include having both short and long term goals which will require different saving strategies to achieve.
In many cases the hardest thing about saving money is getting started. For many people living paycheck-to-paycheck trying to squeeze even a few extra dollars into the budget may seem impossible. In most situations it is possible to find the money to save, and once you get started you will see how quickly small contributions add up. Whenever possible automate your savings so you are not tempted to spend that money in other places. Reaching your financial goals is not something that happens overnight, in fact for most people it is a lifetime endeavor, one that is well worth the effort in the end.
Trisha Wagner is a freelance writer for DepositAccounts.com