Feel like you are swimming upstream in your financial life? Chances are it is because you are. If you are saving for your financial future, you are going against the norm. The household savings rate in America was only 3.4% in 2010, an increase from 1.7% in 2007.*
Seem, low? Well, it is. Saving for the future is hard. We live in a society where immediate gratification is our mantra. Every day we are exposed to thousands of messages to buy, buy, buy and to buy now, now, now, now. No wonder saving for the future seems so hard– because it is! And those who can manage to save, only save 3.4% of their incomes.
So if you are planning to save more along the lines of 10-20% of your income for your various financial goals in 2012, make sure you understand at times you may feel like the lone ranger. Since those currently in your life may not be on the same savings plan as you, I recommend you try to find friends, family or colleagues who are. If not, you may find it harder to stay motivated when everyone else around you seems to be spending more money than you, going out more often, or shopping every other weekend.
Now I am not implying you have to ditch your friends, but if they are not on the same savings track you are, it may lead to some tension and stress for you. Trust me, I have been there.
You might start asking yourself things like:
- “How can they afford going out to eat every night?”
- “How did they just buy that $500 designer bag, when we make the same amount of money?” Or
- “Wow, I wish I was able to travel as much as they are.”
We all do it from time to time, but you have to remember, everyone is on a different plan and everyone decides to use their money differently in life. We all have different values, goals, and overall visions for our lives, and the way we use our money is usually correlated directly to them. So if someone in your life values immediate gratification over delayed gratification, then it may be hard to hang out with that person when you are dedicated to saving for the home you want in 5 years.
The important thing is to be true to yourself and your financial goals. Trying to “keep up with the joneses” or being envious of other people’s spending habits only detract from your short and long term money decisions. While going against the grain and saving your hard earned money can sometimes be a trying endeavor, it is definitely an empowering course of action that you can make your own.
Figure out what spending or saving habits work best for you and keep on swimming!
*Data is from OECD Economic Outlook 87 database and OECD Factbook 2010.