It’s almost the end of summer and for most it’s the beginning of a new year. Forget New Year’s! For all those who have kids in school August and September are the real beginning of the new year. As a mother of 2, my year begins now and ends summer time! And it’s time for New Year’s resolutions! This is a great time to look over your budget and make some plans for how things will be different this year. Make yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea and sit down with your partner (if you have one) and:
- Review your Budget- (assuming you have one!- and if you don’t make one now. Or yesterday.) As the school year begins,it is a perfect time to review how much money you can spend. As kids grow older, their needs change and summer is a good time to map out what you think you may need for this year. Anyone going to need braces? Teenage girl wanting lots of new clothes? Bike for your 5-year old? Now is a good time to review where your money is going and what you need to save up and budget for.
- Set up Systems. The best way to save is to set up systems. How? Set up automatic deposits into your savings accounts. Even if you only have $5 a month to spare, make sure that it is regularly deposited into a savings accounts. We have very busy lives and it hard to remember to save every month (especially when dealing with small amounts- it doesn’t seem worth it!) But when you have the money regularly going into an account it really adds up. And if you set up automatic payments and withdrawals you won’t even miss the money!
- Set a goal. Decide where you want to be financially next summer. Think about what your financial bliss is. Then take steps and step up systems to make that happen.
Make coffee at home.
Don’t eat out.
Don’t buy things you don’t need.
Get less manicures.
So reads the lists of “50 ways to save money and become a millionaire overnight” that every personal finance blog and website has. The theory behind this click bait article is that everyone is really secretly rich but because they spend their money badly they are instead living in poverty. After all, poor people are poor because they don’t know anything about personal finance. If you would just stop subscribing to every subscription know to man-kind you would become as rich as Bill Gates. After all, Bill Gates makes his own coffee. (I don’t actually know if this is true but seems like the type of thing I would read somewhere). The condescending tone of these posts seem to imply that you (yes, you!) are spending so much money on silly things that if you stop then you become a millionaire! (Overnight!)
And I guess maybe these lists are good for some people. If you do all those things and don’t have enough money and aren’t saving then you should stop. Seriously. Stop. Its stupid. (And maybe one day I will write one as well to get some clicks and maybe also help someone save a dime) But what if you are one of those people (like me!) who read through those lists (avidly) and don’t have one thing to stop spending on?! I don’t buy coffee, I don’t eat out, I don’t have subscriptions. Because here is the problem with the “blog” mindset. They want you to believe that everyone can be rich. Everyone really is rich and here are a few simple ways to make that happen. The thing is that if you were truly making “rich” money than the coffee isn’t really making or breaking you. And the thing is that a lot of people are not earning a “rich” salary. And it’s not necessarily because we don’t hustle enough.
Some people just aren’t going to be rich. And that is OK. You don’t have to be rich. You don’t have to make it big. What you have to do is make it OK. And that means doing the best you can with what you got. And what you got is the middle-class salary that most of us are earning. Or the big salary in a big city where you can’t afford housing.
Now, don’t get me wrong- don’t buy coffee too often (I really never do, unless I am in an airport) and when you do buy something make sure that it is in your budget. We are very strict about budgets. But stop looking to get rich. Stop thinking that all it takes is a little will-power and a fewer manicures to make that happen. Live within your means. Spend what you can. Save WHATEVER you can. Work towards meaningful, achievable goals (Emergency Fund, Home ownership, Retirement Account) and stop feeling bad that you aren’t one day going to be super rich. Its OK. Really.