Are you sitting and waiting for your next paycheck to arrive, or are you like one of the millions of Americans who make it to the end of the month with the help of payday loans? Believe it or not, saving money and building yourself up isn’t as hard as it seems. Of course, it takes a little bit of money to make it happen, but there are ways, even on the tightest of incomes, that you can save.

Trouble Saving? You’re NOT Alone!

Whether you are broke all the time and have little money coming in or you are secure in your job but still have issues managing your finances, you are not alone in your struggle to save. A 2016 survey by GOBankingRates, showed that over 36% of Americans had absolutely no savings. About the same amount had only a few hundred dollars in their savings. That means that only 30% of people had decent savings set aside. Furthermore, that shows that well over half of Americans have no real preparation for retirement. That is a scary thought!

The Myths About Saving

The fact of the matter is that millions of Americans have poor spending habits and don’t know how to manage their money properly. When you consider that a simple four-month economics class, tackling big issues such as savings, balancing a budget, and money management skills is required, it’s no wonder! Rest assured, there is hope. Yes, even for a person who considers themselves a financial moron!

Making Financial Savings Possible

Once you rid yourself of the mindset that you can’t save money, you begin to open the door to a world of possibilities for your financial future. You start to see that there is a mindset to being broke—a thought pattern that sheds when you begin to look at where you can save versus being upset that savings aren’t possible. Let’s tackle a few of these misconceptions. Keep reading and see where your mindset lies and how to get around your internal roadblocks to financial success.

‘I’m Too Broke to Save’

Are you? Most people who think they don’t have enough money to start a savings account fall into two categories:

• They have unrealistic savings goals.
• They have poor spending habits.

Those with unrealistic goals tend to think of a certain amount that needs to be saved. They don’t realize that no amount is “too small” to qualify as savings. Those who have poor spending habits will have to take a look at their budget and be honest with themselves about their spending.

‘Savings Always Gets Spent’

This is a “why bother” kind of attitude. If it seems there is no point in saving because you aren’t going to make any progress anyway, then chances are there are gaps in your spending that make it so you have to dip into savings. Another possibility is that you aren’t sticking to a budget. While unexpected events come up, a proper budget will include these expenditures.

‘I Can’t Save Because…’

If you think you can’t save for ANY reason, then chances are you are just making excuses. Those who want to make their money stretch have to make the decision to save money. Consider your budget if this is you, and think about the things you spend your money on. Those who make excuses not to save likely aren’t going to have any money to save. It is only when saving becomes a priority that it can become a reality.

Tackling a Budget

For all who are looking to save, the first step is to develop a healthy and realistic budget. If you have a budget already and it is not working for you, then you may want to start here as well. The key to developing a budget is being realistic in your goals, how much you make, and knowing where all of your money is going.

How to create a healthy financial budget:

Determine how much money is coming into your household. Include money from wages and additional sources. This means everything!
Calculate all expenses. This includes your daily coffee, eating out, and shopping. If you spend money on something, include it in your spending.
Compare income and expenses to see if they match. If you are making more than you spend, then you’re in the clear. If you are making less than what you are spending, look to see where you can cut out any unnecessary items.
Set goals for paying off debt. Debt should be paid off as quickly as possible, even if that means temporarily not spending on certain items.
Make a goal to incorporate savings. You should have savings already listed as an expense. If you do, make a plan to increase that amount after the debt is paid off. If you don’t, start with a small amount, even if it’s only a couple of dollars out of each paycheck until you can increase this number.
Keep your budget up-to-date. Once a month, check back in with your budget, and as you pay off debt or make more money, see where you can add more to your savings column. Challenge yourself to find cheaper ways to get your bills paid. During the month, keep a tally of what you spend and make sure everything that is going out is being recorded under your expenses.

How Much Should You Have Saved?

The earlier you start saving, the less you have to save. This may be good news for some, not so good for others. A study by the Stanford Center on Longevity advised those under the age of 25 to begin putting up to 17% of their income aside for retirement. If you wait till 35 or older, you may need to put away up to 25% of your income if you want to do your own thing by the standard age of 65. These amounts do not include what you need to have stored away for emergency savings, either. So, if you are behind the curve, now is the time to take the smart steps to catch up.

Tips for Saving Money

Budgeting can be frustrating. It can feel like you aren’t earning enough or that too much is going to savings, once things get rolling. Other people may feel like they are not saving enough. Here are some ways to cut out expenses so you can instead spend that money on yourself.

Save Your Change

Empty those pockets once a day, or once a week, and you’ll save up sooner than you think. Sure, you might want to spend that spare change on a soda at the vending machine, but think about how much better you’ll feel when you have amassed over $1,000 in less than two months. It is doable! Regular change-chuckers can easily save up to $50 a week. For those who find that saving their change is hard, consider the Mason Jar Money Method, where you save one dollar one week, two dollars the second week, and so on throughout the year.

Cancel the Cable

Sorry, Jim Carrey, but cable is dead! We live in a digital era; what do you still have cable for? Seriously, cable bills are one of the main culprits. If you don’t have any other source of entertainment or you’re a die-hard cable junkie, then this savings trick may not be for you. But if you only watch a few shows, then chances are you can find your favorites on Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix for a fraction of the price. Often you can find things to watch on YouTube, like older shows or documentaries, which means you could watch them for free.

Skip Eating Out and Coffee Bars

Think you need fast food? Think again. The average American household spends more than $3,000 a year on fast food. Cooking at home, bringing your lunch to work, or even brewing your own coffee is closer to a third of the cost. Sure, it is a little less convenient, but with a bit of planning, you could be spending that cash on something you really want.

Find Places to Save

Are you getting the most out of your expenditures? Chances are, you are spending more on certain utilities, cell phones, and even bank rates by staying put. If you have been with the same service, bank, or company for a while, what does it hurt to check out the competition?

Become Your Own Financial Savior

There is very rarely a valid reason for a person not to be able to save. It may be hard at first, especially if you are prone to purchases or spending money without thinking, but it is possible. Reigning in your spending and finding ways to make more money are both possible. You have to be willing to go for it and look at the options, though. Once you do, there is a world of financial freedom out there. No matter what you hear, money is made by the smart, and it’s not just for rich people.