I have the world’s biggest problem saving my money. No lie. Always have. As soon as money trickles into my checking account, life happens and the dollars drain from my balance sheet like water from a bathtub.
I got into major trouble with credit cards when I was in grad school, and I had lots of bills aside from the cards – a mind-numbing amount, actually – and between tuition, books, parking tickets, gas, and rent, I was barely keeping my head above water. I wasn’t able to work too much at the time since I was a full-time student. Obviously, every dime I had coming in went right back out, and I used credit to make up the difference.
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Me Now – Different Yet the Same
My circumstances have changed dramatically since my grad school days. Now, I’m a stay-at-home mom with two small children and my bills have greatly diminished. I no longer have any credit card debt and my husband currently handles the household expenses.
I started working at home for some side income, and what began as a way to earn pocket money quickly snowballed into a full-fledged freelance career. I’m making more money than I did working outside the home in the past, but somehow I kept coming up with nothing to show for my efforts.
Where was all my money going?
I was repeating the same pattern as grad school. Sure, I have less bills, but any time there are dollars in my checking account, I use my debit card for everything. Not shopping sprees, Mothers Day gifts, or other indulgences – just day-to-day expenses that are decidedly unnecessary: Starbucks. Bagels for the kids. A couple of shirts at Target.
I’m a sponge. I absorb any extra money I earn and I end up with nothing left to save. Ever.
Don’t Be a Sponge, Too
I’m proud to say that these last couple of months have been a real turning point for me. I figured out a way to stop being a sponge… a method for preventing myself from soaking up every last drop of additional income instead of putting it to work for me.
For me, the trick has been to hide money from myself. Nothing else I’ve tried has worked. I’m the kind of person that cannot handle extra money lying around – if an emergency arises, you’d better believe I’m transferring money from savings.
That’s why couple of months back, I started keeping money in my PayPal account. I knew I’d have to transfer the money to savings before I could get my hands on it, so I left it to accumulate in PayPal instead. Then, once I amassed a nice round figure, I transferred to savings and immediately purchased a CD or a Lending Club loan. Once I have enough money stashed away, I’d like to buy an investment property. You may have different investment vehicles of your own – the point is to tie up any extra money you make so you won’t be tempted to spend it. That’s how to create a tidy nest egg for yourself in a hurry.