4 Money-Saving Tips for Creating a Life Full of “Yes”
As an athlete, I have focused on building almost every muscle in my body — but I had to teach myself to build my money-saving muscle.
And out of all the workouts I have done, my money-saving muscle has benefited me the most. It opens doors. Yes, it allows you to enjoy your life without letting emergencies drag you down. Better than that, saving lets you be more you, do more of what you want to do and bring more meaning into your life.
Think of saving money as a gift you give yourself (and any loved ones who depend on you).
Have you ever regretted saving money? Thought not.
Whether you come from a family of big spenders or spendthrifts, saving money is something we are rarely taught to do.
Here are some reps to help you find and strengthen your savings muscle.
1. Know Why You Are Saving
Why save? What’s the big deal? Why set money aside for some unknown future when you could make life better now by spending it? Here are two good reasons.
- To avoid life-ruining emergencies. You don’t know what you don’t know. Today, that’s one of my favorite sayings, but I used to hate when people said it to me, lol. (Then I became a parent and I understood.)Something crazy like 40 percent of Americans cannot handle a surprise expense over $400. The holiday season is coming up and your refrigerator breaks. By the way, how’s your heater?
Things happen. Set aside money you won’t miss now and then coast through disasters in the future without ruining your life.
- For life upgrades. Who doesn’t love an upgrade? Who doesn’t love to be able to do a favor for a friend or family member, like get an Uber for your mother or father because you saved 40 bucks?Save for travel. Go see things, take a train ride, visit different places. You can discover so much from saving so little every day.
Saving brings you opportunities. Actionable opportunities. You can say yes where you’d have had to say no. Things you couldn’t do before become possible. Now that is living.
2. Start. Now.
Start with $5. Pull it out of your wallet now (or transfer it from checking to savings, millennials) and keep reading.
The big myth about life changes is that they happen immediately, especially with money. Rarely can you start becoming financially independent and financially literate in one big move. You can’t just sell your car, pay off your credit card bill and instantly live a healthy lifestyle. It takes time.
And the thing with time is that the sooner you start, the more time will be on your side.
Start saving today. Right now. Starting with that $5. Or another bill, even $1. Maybe you start with coins you find on the ground. Set it aside. When you can, throw in a bigger bill.
Once you start, it adds up fast. If you save $5 dollars a day, that’s $150 set aside each month. Believe it or not, that is $1,800 CASH saved in one year, just from saving $5 a day.
3. Find Your Opportunity Jar
Recently I was walking through the airport, scrambling to get back for Thanksgiving Day meal preparations, and I saw one of those old Tootsie Roll coin cans with the slot on the top. A piggy bank. I grabbed one and brought it home. My wife thought that I was nuts.
“Who does that?” she asked.
I said, “I do.”
As a kid, I loved having that Tootsie Roll can. First — well, tootsie rolls. Second, I loved hearing the small savings pile up with every coin. Find a jar or container that appeals to you, your own bank. Maybe it’s a tissue box you fill with dollars. Or an olive jar for change left over from shopping. Find a nice container where you can put that $5, that $10, to physically start saving your money.
Making it visible makes it easier to practice saving. Put that jar where you can see it, to remind you to save daily.
Finding this jar and filling it will begin to open opportunities for you.
4. Set a Budget Before You Hit the Door
Every time we take our son to hockey, we walk past these amazing fresh pretzels and funnel cakes. (And as a former lineman, I always want funnel cakes.) But we had agreed on a budget, that we were going to spend $0 on food. So, no matter what happens, we do not buy food or drinks at the ice rink. And the savings add up.
Do you ever wonder where your money goes? Often into unplanned purchases like food at an event, an extra drink, an appetizer, an impulse purchase. It’s easy to lose a lot of money every week when you do not set a budget going out the door.
When you go out or go shopping, set a budget for yourself before you walk out the door.
When you set a limit even just once a week, all of a sudden you’re saving money. Whether you’re going to a friend’s birthday party, out to dinner or to a concert (they are always selling something), know what you will spend before you leave. And stick to it.
Then drop that saved money into your jar. Instead of it being gone (and you can’t remember on what), it’s in your savings.
5. Find Other Small Steps to Opportunity
Once you get saving, you can find even more places in your life where you don’t really need to spend money. Bring your lunch to work instead of ordering a $5-10 lunch every day. Try a staycation.
How about reusing things? One of my favorite movies that I like to rewatch is “John Wick”. And the best part about it is that I already own that movie — no rental fees. I don’t have to be kind and rewind. There are more things around the house that you can reuse than you imagine. Even clothes. Will you really die if someone already saw you in that shirt? Those pants?
One by one, find ways to lower your spending. Then, when you resist impulse-purchasing that new T-shirt you probably don’t need, you can put that money in your jar.
Saving money puts you in a new world of things you can do financially. It opens doors to options you didn’t have before. It will save you embarrassment, hassle and pain and lets you say “yes” to important, meaningful things.
Once you build your saving muscle, then, even when you do have to spend your savings on an emergency or you say “yes” to a new opportunity, your savings will automatically start building up again.
That’s a life full of “yes.”