Saving money can be a struggle.
Our present spending takes priority over putting money aside for the future. There’s always one reason or another why we can’t save more.
But that doesn’t mean you’ll be doomed to have puny savings forever. Here are four common roadblocks that prevent people from saving money — and the solutions to get past what’s holding you back.
How to Move Past 4 Roadblocks to Saving Money
Chances are you can relate to one — or more — of these common savings roadblocks. Time to leap over these money hurdles.
Roadblock #1: There’s Never Enough Money Left Over to Save
If you’re waiting until the end of the month to save whatever you haven’t spent of your paycheck, you’re doing it wrong.
Make saving money a priority by paying yourself first. When you get paid, make it a habit to deposit money into your savings account before you pay bills or go shopping. Better yet, adjust your direct deposit so a portion of your paycheck goes automatically to your savings account.
To figure out how much you can realistically afford to save, you’ve got to create a budget. By tracking your spending, you’ll see how much of your paycheck is going toward needs, what is going to nonessentials and where you can cut back in order to carve out funds for saving.
If you’re unsure how much you should be saving each month, try the 50/30/20 budget method, which recommends you use 20% of your take-home pay for saving or meeting other financial goals.
Even if you’re only able to save a little each month, getting in the habit of regularly putting money aside each time you get paid will help your savings increase.
Roadblock #2: Saving Money Just Isn’t Fun
We’ll admit it. Saving money isn’t the most exciting task out there.
When saving feels like drudgery or punishment, it’s hard to stick to your plans.
One way to make it easier is to come up with SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
Having a SMART savings goal establishes a sense of purpose for saving and helps you see your way to reality.
Saying “I want to save up for a trip in October by putting aside $200 each month” will encourage you to save. Simply stating that you want to save more money this year — placing no urgency or specific action behind it — makes it easy to fall off the wagon.
Another way to make saving money more engaging is with a money challenge. Challenges such as the five dollar challenge or the 52-week challenge gamify the process of saving money. Recruit a money buddy to do the challenge with you for even more encouragement to save.
Roadblock #3: I Always End Up Tapping Into My Savings
You aren’t going to be successful at saving if you put money aside only to turn right around and spend it.
Sure, the money you save up is eventually meant to be used. Eventually. The problem occurs when you aren’t able to place boundaries on your savings.
Separating your savings from your main checking account can help. You don’t want it to be easy to transfer money out of your savings.
Deposit your savings in a separate account that you won’t easily access. If you’ve got a debit card for that account, shred it. Consider putting your money in an online-only bank rather than the financial institution that’s right around the corner from your house.
You may even want to open multiple savings accounts, so you can separate your emergency fund from other savings. You can further divide your other savings for different purposes — like saving for a house versus saving for vacation.
Roadblock #4: I Can’t Afford to Save Because I Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck
When your income just covers your expenses, the only option is to increase your income.
Consider picking up a side gig — or two — and committing that additional income to your savings. Or sit down with your boss and make the case for why you should get a raise.
Switching jobs to land a better-paying position is another option. Be sure to negotiate your salary to get the best offer.
With your new income boost, make sure you don’t give into lifestyle inflation. Keep spending as you did previously and put your extra money into savings.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at Codetic.