a woman counting money

Top 10 Obstacles to Saving Money and How to Overcome Them

If you’re struggling to save money, you’re not alone. Saving money is hard, but don’t listen to the boo-boys – there are some legitimate reasons why you might be struggling to save. 

Here are 10 of the biggest reasons why saving money is so hard today. 

1. It’s so easy to spend money 

Spending money at merchants is easier than ever thanks to contactless payments technology and the abundance of credit and debit cards. PLUS, you can easily enter your card details and buy anything you want in minutes online. The average person can easily make more than five card payments in a single day without realising it.

The solution? Withdraw a set amount of cash from an ATM and use that for your daily spending.  

2. You don’t know where the money is going 

You could be completely unaware of just how many direct debits (automatic payments) you’re making every month, which could include things like Netflix and gym memberships. I recently went through my bank account and discovered I was paying a monthly direct debit for a magazine that was still being sent to my old address. All of these direct debits can easily cost hundreds of dollars a month. 

The solution? Review your bank statements and cut out any unnecessary direct payments. 

3. You’re encouraged to spend money 

A lot of people have it drilled into them that if you have savings you’re not “living in the moment”. FOMO (the fear of missing out) is huge at the moment and the emergence of buy-now-pay-later schemes encourage the ‘treat yo-self’ attitude. Some of these schemes generate a large portion of their revenue through late payment fees, which means a lot people using it can’t actually afford what they’re buying. 

The solution? Practice discipline in your spending by really thinking about whether you need to buy another discounted plane ticket.  

4. Credit card debt is rife

According to WalletHub, US credit card debt exceeded $1 trillion for the first time in 2018! This averages out to about $8,600 per household! You can do your bit however by paying off as much of your debt as you can every month – if you can pay off your entire balance by the due date, then you won’t be charged any interest at all. Just don’t pay the minimum required amount, because this will maximise how much you owe in interest. 

The solution? Use a debit card instead of a credit card for everyday purchases if your goal is to save money. 

5. Inflation eats away at wage growth

Wage growth in September 2018 was 2.9% from the previous year – a 10-year high! Wage growth had been static for years before this, which made it hard to save, so things might be a little easier. But this wage growth is just 1% when you factor in inflation, as the real value of your money diminishes.  

The solution? There’s not much you can do about this one, unfortunately, unless you manage to secure a raise or land a higher-paying job. 

6. Everyday expenses are greater now 

This one is up for debate since the costs of items vary, but given what we talked about above, wage growth is only just keeping ahead of inflation. In November 2018, regular gasoline cost $2.65 a gallon. 10-years prior one gallon cost an average of $2.17, which is a pretty sizeable difference. 

The solution? Look for bargains where you can and think about ways you can cut down on the cost of your car and other expenses like groceries. 

7. Education and housing costs are huge 

It’s not just food and gas that’s more expensive now. Education and housing are possibly the two biggest expenses you’ll ever have, and both of them have skyrocketed in price compared to generations past. A public four-year college degree can cost an average of $20,770 per-year, according to Top Universities. 

The less said about housing woes the better, but saving up for a house deposit and having to pay off student loans can make saving for other goals much more challenging. 

The solution? You might need to be more realistic in your savings goals if you have ambitions of owning a home or paying off your student debts any time soon. 

8. Savings account interest rates are abysmal at the moment 

If you think you can save big coin by parking your money in a savings account, you might be mistaken. Interest rates on cash-based savings options such as savings accounts – are extremely low at the moment, with rates averaging at around 2% and rarely climbing above 3%. These rates are barely enough when you factor in inflation and tax. That being said, savings accounts aren’t all bad – they’re good vehicles for practising good savings habits. Just don’t rely on them for earning large returns.

The solution? You might need to look elsewhere for long-term gains, such as investing in stocks (covered below). 

9. People think budgeting and saving is hard

A lot of people think this way – 27% of people who broke financial resolutions put their woes down to a ‘lack of willpower’. Saving doesn’t have to be hard though – you can start by simply setting up an automatic transfer to a savings account every payday, which is the forced savings method of saving.

The solution?  If you find tracking your expenses too difficult, try some of these apps that do it for you.

10. You aren’t investing your savings

Many people make the mistake of sitting on their cash instead of investing it, with Millennials some of the worst offenders. When it comes to return on investment, cash options like a savings account are safe but perform worse than stocks, mutual funds, real estate and bonds over the long-term. 

A low-risk equity-option like an ETF (exchange-traded fund) could be a good way to expose yourself to the higher-potential of the sharemarket without taking on too much risk. 

The solution? Invest some of your savings instead of sitting on it if you’re after greater returns.


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ERIN FALCONER!

Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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