How to save, How to save yourself
“I’ll go forward, a young [wo]man prepared.” –Daniel Lyman Carter, modified primary lyric to “A Young Man Prepared.”
“Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper.” –Beyonce, Formation
In the craziness of the past few days, or what I expect will be the craziness of the first 100 days, I’ve been thinking a lot, as I do, about money. In the beginning of a new year, in the wake of a big change, it’s a perfect time to think about saving. One of the most calming, stabilizing things you can do for yourself is to get your financial house in order. When the rains come down and the floods come up you want to be secure on that rock, not watching your house wash away around you from what you once believed was a pleasant beach.
The ideal savings plan is to be saving a minimum of 20%: 5% toward emergency savings (I lost my job! Our water heater exploded!) and 15% toward retirement. Whatever your income, that may seem daunting. If you are an active Mormon church member paying an additional 10% of your income toward tithing, it may seem impossible – that’s 30% right out of the gate. It is a lot, but it’s also important, and I encourage you to try. If you can’t do 20% right away, start small. Start saving 5% and then try to up it 1% each month until you’re at 20%. Pay attention to your wants versus your needs. Do you need your cable? (Maybe for your sanity – no judgment…) Can you be added instead to a family member’s Netflix? What are your money vices? The diet coke every day at the gas station? The new cardigan you have 10 of, but it was so cute and such a good deal? Think about what you can give up to make a savings plan fit your budget and your income. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, that’s normal. Money is not easy, but you can learn to be good at this. If anything, you’re more prepared than most people. Mormons, as many religious groups, have known sacrifice. You are tough, peculiar people. You can save.
There are instances where saving is truly difficult. Perhaps you’re barely making enough to cover your housing and basic necessities. Perhaps you’re not making enough and getting by on prayers and credit. This is very hard, but you will be okay. This is a season of your life, and one that you can actively change, beginning now. If you’re truly struggling two ways to re-balance your finances may be to look at your housings costs or to look into your employment. Can you downsize your housing to save money? Can you move into a more affordable neighborhood? Are you able to take a second job? Are there educational opportunities or certification programs that would put you on the path to earning more? It may take time, but begin to save now. You, as everyone, will need this cushion. Save 5% and work up. If this means eating beans and rice, beans and rice it is!
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re in a tough financial situation, but begin to save yourself by climbing out of it. It may feel more like you are clawing your way out of it. So be it. You are tough. You can do this. There will be situations in your life where having money saved gives you choice. Maybe, God forbid, you find yourself in an abusive relationship. That money can get you out and open doors to a new start. Maybe your work environment is toxic. That saved money can give you the freedom to leave it behind and find a new way forward. They say that money is power, and there is truth to that. Saving money is an act of feminism. It will empower you to take care of yourself and your family. Start saving now. Think of it as paying yourself. You will feel encouraged as cent by cent you lay that money away. You are on your way!