Ask Chuck: Help me save more money!
I know I’m supposed to save, but I really don’t know how I can or even why I can’t seem to make progress!
Dear No Savings,
Well, you are not alone. Saving money is becoming a bigger and bigger challenge for many. According to MarketWatch, nearly one-in-five Americans saved no money in 2021. 18% contributed $0 to savings, while 48% contributed less than $5,000. A December 2022 Bankrate survey reported that only 43% could cover a $1,000 emergency expense from savings. Sixty eight percent admitted concern about having enough emergency savings to cover one month of living expenses.
Most people say they want to save but do not stay motivated long enough to make real progress. Because they have not practiced it, they do not realize the advantages it brings. Ultimately, money in the bank provides greater security and contentment, but it takes desire and discipline to get there. It requires trading the visible (worldly luxuries) for the invisible (savings, retirement, and investment accounts.) God’s Word encourages all of us to be consistent savers!
Become a saver
“Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling, but a foolish man devours it” (Proverbs 21:20, ESV).
“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (Proverbs 6:6–8 ESV).
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5 ESV).
Saving gives you the confidence to cover emergencies and the freedom to make choices in life. I believe it helps you to become more generous as well.
Saving gives confidence
- To know you can cover unexpected costs.
- To know you can take time off for personal health or to care for others without the fear of missing a day’s wages.
- To know that bills can be paid if you lose your job or take time off to find a good one.
Saving provides freedom
- To control your time.
- To take vacations.
- To decide where you want to live and work.
- To choose your career path.
- To choose satisfaction over income when less pay is more rewarding.
- To retire if and when you desire.
- To help others.
Make choices today for what you need for tomorrow
Worldly things do not compare to the advantage of time and choice that comes with money in the bank. People are burdened with consumer debt because they are spending more than they earn. More things are causing more stress. More stress often leads to more spending! Yet most people don’t stop long enough to think through their spending habits. They do what everyone around them does, hoping to be accepted and admired.
The ability to save boils down to spending less than you earn. Don’t waste your money on things you don’t need! How? Care more about what God says about you than man.
Choose to live contra mundum (going against what the world says or does):
- Don’t think of saving as denying yourself but as investing in yourself.
- Keep a long-term perspective by setting goals and celebrating victories.
- Make automatic deposits to an account you refuse to touch. Do this on a consistent basis.
- Commit to putting a percentage of any gifts, raises, or unexpected income into savings.
- Resolve to reduce expenses.
- Increase income by working more hours or by picking up a side job.
Imagine what saving can do for you
Most of us struggle with thinking beyond today or tomorrow. Credit cards have enabled us to do what we want, whenever we want. Delayed gratification is foreign to many, and the thought is even painful. Children are growing up in homes where they want for nothing. Meanwhile, parents are often buried in debt and stress, while some remain hopeful that their ship will come in.
The key to saving is to develop the habit. See what discipline can do for your life:
- Saving $1/day is better than $0. Would you rather have $365 one year from now or $0?
- Saving $5/day is better than $1. Would you rather have $1825 in a year or $365?
- Saving $10/day will give you $3,650. $20 will give you $7,300 ... and on and on.
And this is all before compounded interest is added in. Add up years and years of saving, and you will see how much financial discipline really pays!
For more help, here are some links to a few of my previous articles:
I hope this helps you get started and remain motivated until you have truly become a saver. The key to financial management is spending less than you earn. Once you have saved $1,000 in an emergency account, add to it until you have 3–6 months of your expenses set aside.
If credit card debt is preventing you from saving, get out of debt as soon as possible! Christian Credit Counselors is a trusted source of support. They specialize in assisting people with getting on the road to financial freedom.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Economic Evidence for God?. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.