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.
Well, actually I did get a raise. Sort of.
My boss gave me a raise but I didn’t give it to myself. What do I mean? Right now I am at the point where I am “making it” day to day but there are still goals that I need to meet. My emergency fund is not fully funded. I have some big purchases that I need to save up for.
My raise is going to pay for that. If I have been fine with my current paycheck then I can live without my raise. The first thing I did when I was told that I would be getting a raise is increase my retirement savings contribution. If the money is immediately accounted for-then I will never miss it! I then sat down and decided how much more needs to go into each of my savings accounts- my emergency fund, my large purchases account etc. After a while, I will increase my discretionary spending but not until I bulk up my savings a bit!
Don’t think that this means that I make so much money that I don’t need the money from my raise- I absolutely do! But if I have been living poorely until now I can do it a little longer until I feel that my savings accounts are in a better place. I can do without now so that my future is a little more secure. And trust me-I do without often!
“Extra money” is the best money to put away- if you never had it then it doesn’t hurt as much to part with it.
I spent $500 at the dentist today. It was an emergency and had to be done. Things like this can be really upsetting. I worked hard to get my emergency fund at $1000 dollars and now I have to rebuild it. Taking a step or two down the savings ladder is really depressing. Its times like this that I have to remind myself of a few things:
- Thank goodness that I live in a place that I can spend money at a dentist that can fix my problem! This is something that was have caused me to lose a tooth if I lived in a different age or place, or possibly my life. Luckily, after a few hours and (actually pretty painful) simple procedure my problem is cured. A few hours of pain
- I have the money to pay for this. After, all what is an emergency fund for if not for an emergency? Yes, it is annoying to have to empty out your emergency fund account, yes, it is depressing to have to “rebuild” the account in the next few month, yes, it is frustrating that I may have to push off my new computer purchase for a while so that I can double-down on putting money into my emergency fund, BUT I was able to pay the entire dental bill on the spot.
- Obviously I wasn’t meant to have this money- but isn’t it great that I had the money to lose in the first place? I am grateful that This dental escapade does not mean another bill that I will have to pay over months. It doesn’t mean that I have to pay down a credit card balance (with interest!) over the next few months. It doesn’t mean that I have to decide which bill I will pay next month. It doesn’t mean I can’t buy anything that I need to buy. I am grateful that I was able to have the money to pay the dentist right away. I am grateful that I have this emergency fund to use for emergencies instead of having an event derail my financial plan for a while. And that is why it is SO important to have these savings put in the appropriate place- because while we cannot prevent emergencies from happening, we CAN make sure that the small emergencies don’t ruin us.