There's one big problem with waiting until you earn more to start saving money

Patrice washington headshotCourtesy of Patrice C. WashingtonPatrice C. Washington.

If you earned more, you’d save more, right?

Probably not, says Patrice C. Washington.

Washington, the author of “Real Money Answers for Every Woman: How to Win the Money Game With or Without a Man,” explains that thinking you’ll start saving when your income grows is a common “money lie” people tell themselves.

She says that looking at entertainers, athletes, and celebrities who have had millions “pass through their fingers” should make it clear that simply having more money doesn’t guarantee you’ll make smart choices with it.

How you manage $100 is likely how you’ll manage $100,000,” she says. “You’re the same person with the same attitude, and the same behaviours and habits. It’s not about getting more money. It’s about being more disciplined with the money you have. When people wish for something later on, it gives them an opportunity to keep from focusing on improving themselves today.”

Plus, she adds, “when I earn more” isn’t a date of action. “Someday is not a day on the calendar. We really have to do a better job of buckling down and saying ‘I’m ready to take action.'”

If you’re serious about changing your habits, Washington advises, you don’t have to wait until the new year, or after graduation, or to a birthday, or to when a tax refund arrives in the mail. “There’s always something. It’s a scapegoat.”

Financial adviser David Bach, author of “The Automatic Millionaire,” recommends using a strategy called “paying yourself first.” When most people get their paychecks, they spend it on their necessities, fixed costs, and “wants,” and then save whatever is left over. This is a faulty system, he notes, because oftentimes whatever money is left over is not enough. Instead of saving your leftovers, he says, you should consider your savings a fixed cost that is just as important as your rent, and that you must pay every month before you start spending on dinners out and other “wants.”

Washington explains that you don’t have to tackle saving all at once — you just have to take one small step in the right direction, like downloading a budgeting app today and connecting your accounts tomorrow. “Progress beats perfection. 

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