When we first started saving money, it was overwhelming. We’d been living off savings for months with barely enough money to pay our bills, let alone save. I didn’t feel like we had any room to breathe, let alone save money.
Then we got married and I was hired full time. Suddenly our monthly income doubled, but the savings we’d been using to supplement our income had run out. We also had to add expenses we’d dangerously put off while I searched for employment: health insurance, renters insurance, and student loan repayments that we’d put in forbearance. Despite our income increase, we were still making just enough to pay our bills.
Our savings account started with the money we’d received from generous friends and family at our wedding. It was a nice little $2,000 nest egg, and it motivated us to find a way to start saving. We started moving money around, budgeting more strictly, and we were able to put $100 a month into savings.
I felt good about saving, but I still knew it wasn’t enough to reach our goals. But then the savings snowball began. We paid off my credit card debt, and we were able to increase our monthly savings. Then we both got raises, which increased the amount even more. Little by little, we managed to grow our savings to $550 a month in liquid savings and $100 a month for retirement.
If you want to start saving and you’re feeling overwhelmed, my best advice is this: save something. I know, it’s the oldest rule in the book, but it really is true. Save what you can. Even if it’s only $50 or $100 a month, the most important thing in the beginning is getting into the habit of saving.
Once you start saving, that little amount of money in the bank will motivate you to save even more. Whether you increase your income or decrease your spending, you will find ways to make your savings grow.
The most important this is don’t wait. The longer you continue spending every penny you earn, no matter how small your income may be, the harder it becomes to start saving. Instead of watching your savings account grow with your income, your expenses will grow. The more you earn, the more you spend. If you wait for a magical moment when your income increases enough that you can save painlessly, you could end up waiting forever.
Once you start saving, though, you suddenly have an incentive to spend less, save additional income instead of spending it, and increase your savings even more.
Saving is never easy in the beginning, but you have to start somewhere. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel like you’re saving enough. It’s better to grow your savings a little bit at a time than to grow your spending.