Everyone wants to have more money, but not everyone wants to save more money.
Yet the two go hand in hand.
Many of you have read my book, Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom, in which I talk about personally getting out of debt and saving more money, as well as learning how to manage a budget.
It’s critically important that you learn how to budget and set aside money on a regular basis, because otherwise you’re destined to constantly be broke and in debt.
And who wants that?
Developing the discipline necessary to save money in the here and now—despite all the other things competing for your cash—may be one of the single biggest factors in determining whether or not you’ll live a wealthy, financially prosperous life.
Without getting into the habit of saving money, you’ll always be in the hole.
You’ll always be forced to pay for big-ticket items with credit. You’ll miss out on the opportunity to let time work on your side, and you’ll forgo the benefit of compounded interest.
Saving money regularly allows you to build up a cash cushion that protects you against the inevitable blows that we all face in life—things like getting a pink slip from your employer or dealing with a car with mechanical problems.
Imagine how much stress and financial trouble you’d be in if you were totally reliant upon that job, or completely dependent upon that car to get to work?
If you were out of a job, how long could you last without that steady paycheck?
Many of you have problems making ends meet right now, even with a paycheck coming in every two weeks.
So if you didn’t work for, say, a month or two—or possibly longer, if you were trying to find a new job—what would it mean for you and your family?
How would you live, survive, and pay your ongoing bills if you didn’t have some savings set aside?
Trust me when I say that it’s in your long-term best interests to put away some money for unexpected events in the future. Call it a rainy-day fund, an emergency fund or whatever you’d like. But take the time to establish a “hands off” account that you don’t touch.
The goal is to only put money into that account, not drain it for any number of reasons. You only take money out of that savings account for true emergencies, or to pay for things that you’ve budgeted, planned, and saved up to purchase.
How Much to Save?
Try to save 10% of your take-home pay each month. If you can save 10% of your gross salary, that’s even better.
However, just because you may not be able to afford to save at the 10% level, that doesn’t mean you should forego saving altogether.
Instead, just set aside whatever amount of money you can afford on a regularly basis (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) until you amass three months’ worth of expenses.
Do you realize that saving just a little bit of money now—and I’m talking $10 a week if that’s all you can spare—can actually reap huge financial benefits down the road?
Ideally, you’ll want to build up a three-month cash cushion. This means that you should have a savings safety net that is equal to three times your normal monthly bills.
Example of a Savings Target:
Monthly Bills: $3,000
Savings Goal: $9,000
Obviously, you won’t accumulate a three-month cash cushion overnight. But if you sock away money from every paycheck, little by little your savings account will grow.
Even kids can understand this basic principle.
Teaching the Next Generation
I have three children, including a five-year-old daughter. With my little one and with my older two kids, who are now 14 and 11 years old, I teach them all the time that they have choices with their money.
I gave them a nifty piggy bank, called the Money Savvy Pig, from the Money Savvy Generation.
The Money Savvy Pig is a 21st-century piggy bank, with four slots in it instead of just one. It comes with stickers and labels that say “Save,” “Spend,” “Invest,” and “Donate.” My book series, The Millionaire Kids Club, also reinforces this idea.
Again, the idea is to teach kids that they have choices about how they use their money. This is critical to teach children because otherwise kids will mistakenly think that the only purpose of money is to spend it on stuff.
As parents and adults, we owe it to today’s young people to help them do better than we’ve done. One way to do this is to become better savers ourselves.
We can all use our words and deeds to show the next generation how and why it’s important to be disciplined, lifelong savers.
By creating a generation of savers, we help our kids avoid unnecessary credit card debt, excessive student loans, predatory mortgage loans, payday loans, and financial problems of all kind.
If that’s not enough to convince you to that you need to impart basic savings lessons to your kids, think about this: Any child of yours who is not financially literate will grow up to be a financially illiterate adult.
Without financial education, that grown child of yours could boomerang back to your household or may be constantly asking for economic help.
This scenario can be avoided, of course.
Simply start by telling the youth in your life that that saving money is just as important – even more important, in fact — than merely earning or spending it.