Every once in a while I have to remind myself that my retirement fund is a little lighter than it should be at this point in my life. Let's not even talk about my savings account. Although both of them have been gutted over the last few years as I got my business off the ground, I can't help but feel that I could've saved more. If you've ever wondered why it’s so hard to save, consider whether these hurdles may be getting in your way.
You Think You Don't Make Enough Money
All the money experts agree: The more money you make, the more you're likely to spend. So boosting your income isn't the all-encompassing solution to saving money. Just ask Antoine Walker, an ex-NBA player who made over $110 million and is now bankrupt.
The Fix: Although financial gurus recommend setting a budget, I completely understand if you find this particular task boring. To simplify things, try to identify as many of your money leaks as possible, such as buying a daily cup of coffee, extra cable channels, professional manicures, bottled water and so on. Commit to eliminating as many of these as you can. You'll be surprised at how much extra money you have in your budget.
You Think It's Too Time Consuming to Save
Some of us just aren't up to clipping coupons, bargain hunting, managing a budget, while raising a family and having a life too. Admittedly, you do have to dedicate some time to stretch every dollar you make, but you don't have to let it leave you frustrated and worn out.
The Fix: Delegate as many money-savings tasks as possible. Don't like creating a budget? Turn it over to a numbers-loving relative or swap it for a task your spouse or partner doesn't like to do. Don't like clipping or downloading coupons? Get the kids in on the action and use apps such as the Coupon Apps for Android or Coupon Sherpa for iPhone, which does all the dirty work for you.
You Don't Pay Yourself First
Although paying yourself first has been the first rule of saving from way back in the day, many of us still find it very difficult to do. What this simple practice means is that you put a portion of money into savings before you pay any bills.
The Fix: Automate it so that money is withdrawn from your paycheck to go directly to your retirement fund. If you're saving for other reasons and cannot have the money deducted directly from your paycheck, then set up an automatic withdrawal from your bank account on the same day(s) that your salary is deposited.
You Don't Get Enough Free Money
Got a wallflower personality? Don't do enough research about saving money? Then you're at risk for saving a lot less than you should be. That's because you don't put yourself in a position to take advantage of all the free money that's available to you, whether it's rain checks, rebates from retail stores, tax credits or government rebates for stuff like buying energy efficient appliances to make your home more eco-friendly. Using free money allows you to hold on to more of your own money, which makes it much easier for you to save.
The Fix: A simple search for " U.S. and rebates" on Google will help you get started in hunting down rebates. Also, visit Energy Star for information on energy efficiency tax credits. Don't be shy about contacting your local or state government offices or visiting their websites to find out about programs they have offering rebates, such as property tax and rent rebate programs.
You're Wasting Your Free Time
Sure everybody needs a little downtime to relax and re-energize, but do we really need to be vegging out in front the TV for five hours daily, or watching video on the Internet for three hours daily? Those are just a few of the mind-numbing figures from the 2009 Nielsen "A2/M2 Three Screen Report" on how Americans use media in their home. Not only are you spending more money to indulge in your media love affair, but you're also not using this free time to make some extra cash that you can save.
The Fix: Grab a copy of Robert Pagliarini's The Other 8 Hours. I'm a huge fan of this book, which gives some great insight on how to use some of your leisure time to maximize your income and savings. One of his recommendations I really like is learning how to move away from being a consumer to being a creator or builder. As he puts it, instead of being brainwashed by the billion-dollar ad industry and thinking that buying will bring you happiness and success, figure out how to become the person taking the money instead of handing it over. It doesn’t mean you don’t get to spend on the goodies that make your life more comfortable, you just become more discerning about what those are and stop being a spendthrift.
This has been a guest post by Andrea from Ontario, Canada
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!