First things first, allow me to briefly introduce myself. My name is Michael and I am 26 years old. I don’t make a lot of money during my 40+ hour work weeks, and with the gloomy economy weighing down on all of our shoulders, it’s been a tough task to save money ever since I began working roughly 8 years ago, let alone put back an adequate stash of cash in the event of an emergency.
I’ve set out on many short-lived journeys in search of information that might motivate me to try harder to save, and to learn proper tactics to aid me in my struggle to improve my financial situation. In almost every presented scenario, the primary consensus was that it is essential to cut back on expenses and other purchases to have more cash on hand left over to put into savings. In theory, this is a very wise decision that should have very positive effects on anybody’s financial status.
The reality is, that if you’re like most young adults such as me, that extra cash on hand becomes extra spending cash, and before you even realize it the money you’ve been cutting from your expenditures has merely spread into other unnecessary purchases. Who’s not guilty of this? It’s a hard thing to give up spending some extra dough on the small things, be it a soft drink at the local convenience store or a small self-rewarding gadget. I definitely was not willing to give up these types of purchases which add to my quality of living.
Without a proper system in place and a good amount of willpower to back your system, the process of saving money can sometimes seem unattainable. The system I came up with allowed me to continue living the way I live, while physically taking money and storing it away without it bothering me.
First of all, I put away the debit card! I started carrying cash only. It’s a lot harder to part with cash rather than swiping a piece of plastic. When using a debit card, it’s easy to lose touch with your spending because you don’t actually see the money leaving your wallet. This step alone will help you to naturally cut out unnecessary spending without feeling the effects of actually making an effort to cut out anything.
Next, I bought a fireproof, lockable cash box. At the end of every day, I took all of my coins and one-dollar bills and put them in this contraption. Every so often I would organize the bills and roll the change when necessary, but I did not begin to count my savings until I had built up enough cash to feel good about what I had been doing.
Aside from other small, random contributions to the cash box when I had saved up some extra spending cash that I chose not to spend, this is the system that I followed two years ago from early Spring until Christmas of the same year, a period spanning approximately 8 months. I continue to follow the same system now, but in that specific time frame I managed to save a whopping $3,800! And I didn’t have to force myself to refrain from buying a bar of candy on the occasion, or getting a nice apple-scented candle as a self-reward for pulling through a hard week at work. Any expense cutting that I did was a natural result of the positive feeling I had towards the cash that I had sitting at home and wanted to add to. This idea in itself was quite the reward.
This method of saving did not involve creating a budget. It did not require me to reevaluate the bills that I had going out every month, nor did it require me to cut out the enjoyment of being able to spend money somewhat recklessly on the occasion. It also required hardly any self-discipline. Don’t spend your change or your one-dollar bills throughout the day. Accumulate these items until the end of the day, then dump this money into the cash box, go to sleep and forget about it. Let the money pile up, and then one day when you know the amount in there will make you happy to hold in your hands, pull it out and count it! The hardest part of saving money is starting to save money. Once you manage to pass through that part, the funds you have available to you will only make you want to add more to the pot. By all means, add to it!
Give this strategy a try if you’re trying to create yourself a nest egg, or maybe saving to purchase something predetermined. I’d love to know how it works for you!
*Disclaimer: It is not wise to store large amounts of cash at your house, even though I did. If you can deposit your funds into a savings account regularly to avoid having too much cash on hand, without it negatively affecting your mindset on saving this money, please do! Also, be sure to buy yourself a fireproof locking mechanism of some sort to store your savings in. If you’re going to have money, you’ve got to protect it!