Every day I see at least one social media post or video about saving. Building savings, saving for retirement, saving during the pandemic, etc. Since the pandemic hit our economy last March we've been inundated with the idea of saving our money...if not for this economic downturn then for the next. But all of this advice to save, save, save how often do these posts outline for you how to save?
The first and simplest piece of advice I can give is to make sure you have more money coming in than going out. Creating a budget through an app like Mint or on your own spreadsheet will help you with this. This needn't be fancy, but knowing what you earn each month and what you spend each month will tell you how much you can save right away. If you're working as many hours as possible, budgeting as tightly as you can imagine, and still only break even you have what Tiffany Aliche (aka the Budgetnista) calls a "don't-make-enough issue." This isn't meant to shame you, but to give you the knowledge that in order to save picking up a little side hustle will help! You can tutor, babysit, edit papers, drive for Lyft, sell crafts on etsy, etc. We are living in the world of the side hustle so don't be embarrassed about this!
PS. I ADORE Tiffany and highly recommend you get her book "Get Good with Money: 10 Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole."
The next piece of advice is to open a savings account not connected to your checking. It's time for a divorce between your checking and savings. Oh, sure, they can still be friends! But they're not gonna be married anymore. Got it? Why: because when you're at Target and want to purchase something your checking account may say no...unless your savings is an instant transfer away.
Sure -- keep the free savings account as a back-up/overdraft security to your checking. But I don't think of this as a true savings account. When I say savings account I mean an account that gets a competitive interest rate and holds your money long-term. Occasionally it will dip as emergencies or big purchases happen (that's what this money is for!) but it isn't meant to keep you from going in the negative in your checking every other week. Make sense?
Third on my advice list is to commit. There are two ways to do this and they depend on how you receive your money. If you receive regular paychecks: set up an automatic transfer for the day of/after payday to your savings account. It may take a few days to transfer (because these accounts are at separate banks, right??) but this is the quickest and easiest way to set aside money without even thinking about it. You can also ask your work to split your paycheck into separate accounts, that way you don't worry about over-spending while your transactions list catches up.
Savings can help you feel empowered, they cannot define your worth as a human or creative.
If your money is less regular (i.e. gig work, income from selling products/commissions, etc.) then commit to saving a portion of each check -- no matter the amount. This percentage is heavily reliant on your goal. It's easy for me to say "save 20% of your paycheck," but truthfully for many folks that can seem more insulting than helpful. Look at your goals. Look at your income. Look at your expenses. What do they communicate you are allowed to save from each paycheck? Now bump that number up ever so slightly to create a savings goal. 20-30% is a good place to start, but sometimes our situation means we can only save 5%. And you know what? That 5% is HUGE so don't ever feel small about how much you stash away.
Savings can help you feel empowered, they cannot define your worth as a human or creative. Start somewhere -- no matter how small -- and your savings will grow!
Creatives don't necessarily get "bonuses" like workers in other industries. But we certainly get bonus money a lot. It can be extra church-gig money (Hello, Easter and Christmas!), your tax refund/stimulus check, or seasonal gig/work money that boosts your checking account more than the typical month. Many folks will take this extra money and buy a purse, but not you! You're here because you want to know how much of this you should save.
Other coaches may proclaim that you're to save all of this, but I have been around too long to expect you to commit 100% of any extra income to a savings account. As hustlers we're used to spending as little as possible to make our dollars streeeetch! Of course there will be expenses you've held off on paying for a while. Healthcare costs often fall into this category. Need new glasses? Use the bonus money. Want to invest in an air purifier? You've got the cash! Just have a plan for it.
For example: you've receive $300 extra from your babysitting job because Mom and Dad needed to work late extra nights this month and you enjoy watching their kids. Guilt tells you to save all $300, but there's a contacts-sized hole in your cabinet. Maybe it'll be $180 for two new boxes for each eye. Absolutely, 100% buy the contacts. You actually need them! But commit to saving the remainder in your account rather than going out to an expensive dinner simply because you can.
Maybe you don't need anything right away, but you've been hardcore budgeting and want to splurge a bit. Create an agreement with yourself that bonus money goes 50% into savings and the rest is yours to spend. With the earlier example that means $150 goes into savings and you can spend the remaining $150...wisely. it's okay for bonus money to be treated differently than your regular income. You may only save 10% of most gig checks, but with bonus money you decide to invest a higher percentage in yourself. You can spend your extra money, but redefine "extra" to mean after you've paid yourself through saving.
You invest in your dreams when you set a savings goal.
And that is truly what saving is about: investing in yourself. You wake up and do all kinds of work for your employer(s) and they pay you for that work. But who pays you for all the work you do for yourself? The answer is YOU. You invest in your dreams when you set a savings goal. You invest in your future when you create a realistic and achievable savings plan.
I absolutely know you can do this!