Let me guess.
You haven’t started saving for retirement yet. You don’t know how you’re going to pay your taxes (because you haven’t been keeping up with—what are those silly things called?—quarterly payments.) You certainly don’t have a rainy day fund. <—Said while laughing hysterically into your beer. And college? Well, the kids will just have to open a lemonade stand. (And charge $100 a glass.)
Disciplining yourself to save is hard—especially when it feels like you’re just barely scraping by.
But that doesn’t mean you should throw it all to the wind and french kiss it goodbye. Especially because, if you’re like most of us, you KNOW you should be doing these things. You know it’s going to catch up with you eventually. And you probably feel pretty bad / irresponsible / guilty / like a failure of a human being for not doing it. (Even if it’s just once a week at 3am when you wake up in a cold sweat crying like a baby.)
So here’s what I do to keep myself in check–the easy way:
Step Number One: Open a separate savings account for every single one of your goals.
For example, in my business bank account, I’ve got a business savings account, and a business tax savings account. In my personal bank account, I’ve got a retirement savings, a rainy day savings, and a guilt-free fun savings. (That I LOVE to use for something entirely indulgent, once a year.) With online banking, it’s a cinch to open new savings accounts, and monitor them all in the same place.–
Step Number Two: Set up automatic debit to contribute a little to each, on a WEEKLY basis.
By setting up automatic debit, it’ll, ahem, happen automatically, and therefore, YOU CAN’T SABOTAGE YOUR OWN EFFORTS BY CONVENIENTLY “FORGETTING” TO TRANSFER THE MONEY. Or not wanting to transfer the money. Or rationalizing that you will “make up for it next month.” But here’s the real trick: Calculate how much you can save each month for each goal, and then divide by four, and set it up so those smaller chunks automatically come out of your main checking account WEEKLY, instead of monthly. This way, you don’t have to worry about large amounts coming out all at one time, it won’t feel like such a hard hit, and you’ll barely notice the difference. Next thing you know, you’ll actually have savings. And you can feel like a responsible adult who’s taking care of BUSINESS. A little really does go a long way–don’t forget it.