Picture this. You walk into Target planning to get toothpaste and face wash. Next thing you know, an hour has passed and you’re in line, ready to check out, standing beside a full cart piled high with yoga pants, striped socks, a few DVDs, and a colorful throw. The cashier rings it up. “That’ll be $142.72.” You swipe your card, too shocked to think about what just happened. It’s not until the drive home that the guilt sets in. You know you should be saving that money instead of spending it.
Chances are, if you’re like most modern working women, you know you need to save money for the future—yet somehow there’s never any money left at the end of the month. So instead of constantly beating yourself up for not saving every month, learn this simple approach and then spend money guilt-free—a win-win solution.
The old way of managing money every month was to pay your bills, spend your money on fun things like going out and shopping, and then save whatever was left over.
Old Way: Save What’s Left Over
Net Income (after tax income)
– Spend money on fun things
= Save whatever’s left over
This approach never works long-term. It’s just too hard to save money at the end of the month when we live in a world of immediate gratification. So stop making it so hard. Simply shift your mindset and follow the new approach to managing money: The “Pay Yourself First” strategy.*
New Way: Pay Yourself First
Net Income (after tax income)
– PYF Savings (Cash cushion, retirement, travel goal)
= Spend money on fun things (guilt-free!)
Automate your savings so they’re just like another bill that you must pay every month. After you pay your bills and Pay Yourself First, you can spend the remaining amount of money on whatever you want, guilt-free. If you want to go to Target and spend $150, go for it. Or maybe you want to buy that new designer bag that cost a lot of money. Do it. You may have to eat ramen noodles the rest of the month, but at least now you’re being a smart, financially wise woman who is saving first and spending last. Of course, you can’t spend more than what’s left over every month, otherwise you’ll be creating debt–and we know that’s not good.
How much should I be saving?
A good rule of thumb is to save 10-20% of your net income toward your top three financial goals for the year. However, if that’s too much for you, start small. Maybe start with 3% and work your way up by increasing the percentage by 1% every six months until you reach the desired level of 10-20%.
This approach sets the foundation for your financial success long-term. It makes it super easy for you to save money and not feel guilt about spending what’s left over. So now it’s your turn. Work on setting up your Pay Yourself First strategy and start saving the easy way. Set up automatic savings toward at least one of your financial goals today. This could be as simple as putting $50 per month into your savings account to build your cash cushion. Or it could be contributing $100 per month into you Roth IRA. Whatever it is, just make it automatic. You’ll be surprised at how you won’t even miss that money once it’s automatically deducted.
Now we want to hear from you! Leave a comment below and tell us the best ways you’ve found to help save more money every month. We look forward to reading your fabulous comments!
*Created by David Bach, financial author and expert.
This post was contributed by Brittney Castro, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Founder & CEO of Financially Wise Women, a Los Angeles based financial planning firm for women. She specializes in working with busy professional and entrepreneurial women who are passionate about life and want to gain clarity around their money. Brittney’s mission is to help women plan and create the life of their dreams, free from anxiety about money. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Planning Magazine, Investment News, and Registered Rep Magazine. Visit her at www.financiallywisewomen.com and follow her on Twitter @brittneycastro.
Brittney A. Castro is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. California Insurance License #0F33895. Brittney Castro is not affiliated with TheEveryGirl.com.