Budgeting & Saving

5 Ways to Ditch the Excuses and Start Saving Money Now!

The endless items that require money are just part of adulting. Mortgage or rent, roof repairs, surgery for your dog, and the list goes on (these are some of my own recent budget line items). With all that going on, it can become easy to make excuses as to why you're not saving.

But saving is crucial—for an emergency fund, education, and retirement. Here are five common roadblocks to saving money we learned about from a few financial experts along with their tips to get over the hump and just start saving now:

Excuse #1: I Know I Should Be Saving. I Just Don't Know How to Get Started.

How to Get Past It: "Kickstarting your savings is surprisingly simple," shares Madeline Daniels, communications director for America Saves and Consumer Federation of America. "Savers with a plan are twice as likely to make good progress meeting their savings needs for things like rainy days and retirement."

"Savers with a plan are twice as likely to make good progress meeting their savings needs for things like rainy days and retirement." - Madeline Daniels, America Saves and Consumer Federation of America

What's a great first step? Daniels says it's "creating a simple savings plan by setting a goal such as saving for your education, then writing down how much you're going to save each month and how long you're going to save for."

America Saves provides tools to create your savings plan with the America Saves Pledge.

Bonus Tip: Once you have your plan, Daniels notes that the easiest way to save is automatically. If you have an employer that uses direct deposit, have a portion put into a separate savings account. If you don't have the option for direct deposit or are self-employed, just set up automatic monthly transfers into your saving account through your bank or credit union.

Excuse #2: Why Bother Saving Money When You Can Just Lose It in the Market?

How to Get Past It: The stock market has been a little crazy lately, no doubt. But that's no reason to bail on investing, or savings in general. Michael Dinich, a financial advisor in Sayre, PA who runs, says, "I think a lot of financial advisors forget that the Great Recession and financial crises left a lot of scars. Many young people either personally suffered during the worst of it or saw their parents lose money." And that's hard to get over.

Dinich compares getting started with investing to kicking off a new diet or exercise routine: "It sounds totally backwards from what many advisors in the industry do, but I like to start young people off with safe investments like indexed annuities or Modified Endowment contracts."

He says this helps set up new savers to have good experiences early on because a negative experience may turn them off from investing or saving. It's the easier cardio and the small diet change version of saving.

Excuse #3: With Interest Rates so Low, It's Not Going to Benefit Me or Make an Impact.

How to Get Past It: Eric Nisall, creator of the course Bookkeeping for Bloggers, reminds his clients that "it's not just about getting rich. It's also about having another tool in your 'financial toolbox' for security and peace of mind that you'll have something in case of emergency."

"Regardless of the interest rate you may be getting on your savings anything is better than zero as a rate of return," says Nisall. That said, it doesn't hurt to research the interest rates, fees and fine print anytime you're putting your money into something new. Check legitimacy before transferring or depositing any money as well and be weary of anything that offers returns that seem too good to be true. This will help you avoid scams.

Excuse #4: I Don't Understand Savings and Don't Know Who to Trust.

How to Get Past It: If you're looking for a financial advisor, ask trusted family and friends for referrals. You can also check out a potential advisor with FINRA—the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority—via their Broker Check tool. Even with a financial advisor, that person can't be with you every day. Winnie Sun, a financial advisor nicknamed "The Wealth Whisperer," has a few tips for saving more and spending less, including using financial apps to help you.

"The apps act as a personal trainer for your finances and give you a visual representation of your budget at a glance and on the go. They can really boost your self-control, too," says Sun. There are a growing number of easy to use, secure options when it comes to saving online or with an app.

Sun adds, "Many people equate budgeting with deprivation, and this only fuels them to spend more. Instead, try to think of it as a tool for being able to afford the life you want."

If you're spending more than you should, you likely are racking up credit card debt and that is costing you more money in interest. If that's the case make a plan to cut down your debt by paying off more of your balances or checking out other options like a debt consolidation loan or balance transfer credit card that might save you additional money on interest.

Excuse #5: No Worries, I'm Already Saving. (But Are You... Really?)

How to Get Past It: "Some people think they already are saving, only they aren't," shares Neal Frankle, CFP. "What they do is save what's left over at the end of the month, rather than make saving a priority. By only saving what's left over, they end up usually only saving a fraction of what they otherwise could."

So what should you be doing to combat that? We mentioned it before—automate. Direct deposit, automatic 401(K) contributions, or a transfer every month will help you stash away money on a regular basis.

It's never too early or too late to start saving and making the most of your money, so you have it for a rainy day and to secure your future.

Editor's Note: February 26 - March 3, 2018 is America Saves Week, bringing together various groups to encourage and support Americans saving effectively. Check out more from America Saves and visit us here on regularly for more tips on budgeting and saving.