Ok, so you want to lay yourself a little nest egg. You work out your budget, google a few money-saving tips, and viola, you’re ready to start saving. And then you get a slow puncture on one of your tyres, and the mechanic recommends you buy a full set. And you forgot that it was colleagues birthday so you chip in for a pressie. And then she wants to go out and you dutifully oblige and roll into bed at 4am with a pocket-full of ATM receipts. Seriously, WHY IS IT SO HARD TO SAVE MONEY?
Tis called life.
It just sucks. We work hard all week, we should be able to enjoy ourselves. Well, kittens, life will be a lot more enjoyable if you have a little something set by for that proverbial rainy day (read why here).
Here’s the kicker, though – we’re human, and tend to follow certain behaviour patterns. Our primitive fight-or-flight instincts don’t understand why we can’t spend all of our money in one go. It feels so good to get up, go and grab a delicious coffee from Costa, go shopping, go to the cinema and then have a delicious dinner.
TBH, I agree with my stupid hypothalamus – that would indeed be a lush way to live my life. Unfortunately, it won’t pay the bills. But fight or flight isn’t exactly known for its forward planning and logical thought process. There’s just no time for it when you’re about to be eaten by a sabre-tooth tiger. I just wish there was a way to convince it that the cream cake in my fridge will still be there the next day if i don’t eat it. No enemy tribe will siege my camp looking for said cake. FFS. Anyway.
The whole world wants our money…
Sorry, but it’s true. The essence of far too many peoples’ lives is to part us from our precious pennies. Sure, there are the obvious villains such as phoney Nigerian princes and that guy that always seems to need 30p for the bus home, but even our own supermarkets hire people to work out how best to grab our cash. There are constant TV appeals for children dying of cholera, those poor, overworked donkeys and much-needed cancer research. And then Christmas. Birthdays. Saturdays. Friends. And the constant pressure from social media to have avocado scented candles, rose-gold peonies and travel fourteen times a year.
If you have kids, it’s even worse. Not only is there the incredibly persuasive pester-power, there’s also school trips, uniforms, and finding someone you’d be happy to leave them alone with for eight hours a day so you can actually go to work.
…and we want to spend it.
Ok, I don’t even like ‘stuff’. I’m very messy and therefore have to be anticlutter (read more on that here – there are tips for lazy-person cleaning), otherwise, I’d end up being an extreme hoarder. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love eating out, going to the movies, buying music. The list is literally endless. There’s nothing quite like the rush of a shopping spree, and once you start, it’s hard to stop.
So I’ve answered the question why is it so hard to save money, but that isn’t much use unless I actually come up with some sort of plan to stop it being so hard. My solution is simple, but I’m afraid not particularly easy. It is this: organisation.
It can be a long process, but organising your finances so that every penny is accounted for (you may need an ‘impromptu trip to Ikea section’ – I do). You start small – set aside £5 a month and don’t spend it. Put in an ISA, a sock drawer, your mum’s fridge – WHEREVER – and simply don’t spend it.
In a year you’ll have £60. It may not seem like much, but imagine if it had been a tenner? or £100? You just need a little something to ignite that savings spark and after that, it will get easier. You’ll develop a rather maternal fondness for your little nest egg, and won’t actually want to spend it. You protect it, and it will protect you. I’d recommend having a couple of savings ‘pots’ with varying levels of accessibility – you know, one for an impromptu barbeque, and another for an impromptu asteroid falling on your house.