A blog about spending wisely in your twenties, with advice on everything from cooking to saving money on gas; how to teach yourself to save money instead of spending it, traveling without breaking the bank, and much more.

Monday, April 28, 2008

You're NOT Homeless!

Are you carrying your worldly possessions around in plastic bags, sleeping in parks and begging for money? Probably not, but a lot of twentysomethings seem obsessed with the romance of feeling like they're one missed paycheck from poverty.

Nearly everyone I talk to about saving money insists that they just "can't!" Apparently, quite a few of my peers believe they are so destitute that every cent of every paycheck must go to their bills and basic survival costs. But if you're eating out more than once a week (I try to only eat out once a month!) or if you're not finding ways to save on your groceries, or if you're throwing money out into the ether that ought to be going toward your bills...well you're not living to paycheck to paycheck because you're poor. You're living paycheck to paycheck because you have no control over your money. Even if you're trying to control your spending in little ways, unless you're looking at the big picture, you've probably sprung a leak somewhere in your finances and you can't plug it because you don't know where it is.

Here's the thing about being in our twenties, we've got time on our side. I make $1400 a month in wages (and that's if I'm working myself like a dog), but I'm putting at least some of that away. I may not have loads of cool stuff or a fancy car, but in a few years when I want to buy a house I'm going to be better off than a 35 year old making six figures a year, who has saved nothing because he's 'poor.'

Very few of us are actually poor. We could easily start socking away $20 or less a month. When it comes to saving, just putting yourself in the habit of putting something away is more important than how much you put away. Many of us are unhealthily attached to the martyrdom of "I'm so BROKE!" We see it almost as a badge of honor and we actually want to cling to that. It's our best excuse to not do better for ourselves.

Feeling like a financial martyr means that you don't have to really work at saving money, because broke is what you do. In fact, it's what you are. But who wants to be a charity case? I truly believe that unless you are honestly destitute, you can find $10-$20 a month to put in a savings account. Many will argue that there's no point to putting such a small amount away, and many others will have a hard time leaving the money alone, but as with any other behavior that requires self discipline to implement, starting small is the easiest way to start.

1 comment:

Momma said...

Great Post! I had this very conversation with my mother yesterday. Congrats on making the carnival.