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We all know the Richest Man In Babylon and the Automatic Millionaire approach to getting rich (very slowly, and if we ignore inflation … you wish!): simply save 10% to 15% of your gross salary …. and wait.
But, that sage advice is doled out like just something that you can easily do …
… but, there’s a couple of problems:
1. It’s not so easy to save that much if you’ve got a stay-at-home spouse, three hungry kids, a car loan and a mortgage to ‘feed'; I mean, not everybody started reading personal finance blogs in their diapers [AJC: that's when they start writing them! ], and
2. It’s not enough: inflation, financial crisis, work crisis, home crisis, etc. all ‘eat’ into your savings and decimate your Save 15% Until You Die Or Retire Whichever Is Worse plans.
Fortunately, I have a solution to both problems:
We solve the first problem by remembering that ago old adage / riddle:
Q: How do you eat an elephant?
A: One bite at a time!
It’s the same with savings: set your target at 15% of your gross salary, then make a start by saving just 1% more than you are saving today. If you’re currently saving nothing, then I guess you’re now saving 1% … infinitely more than before
As often as you can, but no less than monthly, increase that savings amount by 1%. Repeat until you reach 15%.
In Australia, we have $1 and $2 coins; I just automatically throw these in the center console of my car. Last time I checked, there was $50 or $60 in there … if I were poor, I guess I would trundle off the the bank and deposit that in savings account, until I had accumulated enough to add to my 401k.
You probably won’t even miss the ‘lost’ spending money …
Then we can solve the second problem by saving even more; here’s how, and you won’t even feel it, I promise:
You only save more when you are allowed to spend more!
It’s a trick that I taught my children: when they get money (any money: an allowance, a gift, find it on the street, etc.) half goes into Spending and the other half into Savings.
So, too, does it go for you: anytime that you get any additional money [insert 'found money' methods of choice: a pay increase, a second job, a windfall, loose change that you save out of your pockets, a gift, a manufacturer's cash rebate, tax refund check, etc., etc.] you Spend half and you Save half.
Over time, you will find that your rate of savings goes up tremendously … and – almost – painlessly (because you get to spend the other half)!
Of course, there is a third solution: simply contrive to earn more money from businesses and/or investments such that your savings won’t make any difference to you …
… but, I encourage you to try my “eat the elephant” Making Money 101 strategies as well because the money that you have saved will help you to fund these ventures – with enough left over to ensure that you have a safety net of some sort in case your plans don’t work out; and, even if things don’t work out the way you expected, if you followed those basic guidelines, you’ll probably find that you’re still better off than 90% of your neighbors