My husband and I randomly joke about savings, whenever the word comes up in commercials (or wherever else). We both look at each other and chuckle and say – most times in unison- “what savings”. My saving situation right now, is more like a “save before you buy” or “save this money for credit card bills”.
I’m very familiar with all the financial rules and how much of your income you should be saving, and the fact that you should have money stashed away for emergencies. SIGH, is this really a realistic goal for the average worker of today?
Existing is expensive. Every trip to the supermarket, every doctor’s visit, every gas bill, every rent cheque, every utility bill, every insurance payment, every car service appointment, every prescription to be filled, every pair of glasses or contact lenses to be purchased, every “surprise” incident. None of this is for fun. There is no entertainment budget included here and you’re probably already racking up those numbers. What savings?
My parents instilled this idea of saving very early on and I would quite literally hoard money. I had so much money at a point that my parents sometimes pretended to borrow money from me. I would then cut out pieces of my notepad paper to write loan slips outlining their interest payments lol. In some ways I was more organized then than in my adulthood 🤦. I recall one instance where I needed some money for a school activity and my parents were apparently playing around when they said they wouldn’t pay for it. So, what did I do? I knew I had the money so I cut open my piggy bank (I was in such a hurry to cut it that it was so jagged and I almost cut my hand on the hard plastic) and got the money myself. I may have had a few more coins than the other students but I paid for my event and I was so proud. On the day of the event when my parents gave me the money, I told them I already paid and replenished my piggy bank with the money they gave me 😆.
Now as an adult after I have paid for any event…there’s nobody handing me the money to replenish my piggy bank 😟. Whose idea was it for us to grow up? I could see myself being a “kept child” all my life.
But, let’s be real now: do you have savings?
There are multiple savings models. The most popular among them are:
The 70-20-10 rule: Dedicate 70% of income after tax to living expenses; 20% should be set aside for savings; and 10% set aside for debt
The 50-30-20: Set aside 50% of your after-tax income for needs, obligations or must-haves; 30% to things that you might want; and 20% to saving and repaying debt.
Now, while we should be minimizing our expenses as much as possible I do think it might be a little aspirational (for the vast majority of us) to have only 10% of our income as debt/ to only set aside 10% as debt repayment. In this world of credit card debt and insurmountable bills it might be a bit unrealistic to also set aside 20% for savings AND debt repayment. Now, some of us might already be doing this/better than this, Some of us may see this as aspirational and others might see this as straight up oppressive.
That’s exactly it! There is no “one size fits all” approach.
Regardless of whether it’s a way to save calories or save money… a “one size fits all” approach rarely works. We all get paid different salaries, have different expenses, different guilty pleasures and different non-negotiables. So, even though there may be saving models (like the 70-20-10 rule) that works for most people, it might not work for you.
You may feel like a colossal failure because of this, and like there is no way out of your current situation…but, a “one sixe fits all” approach is almost like giving someone, who is an XL shirt size, a size XS life raft and just hoping for the best . It may or may not be effective. I’ve done some work in human rights advocacy and social development (you might ask how these things are related… but wait for it) and the best projects were the ones that included the people we were trying to help. Working with grass roots communities and finding unique ways to meet their unique problems always worked better than going in with a cookie cutter and hoping they would fit the mould.
You need to make your own mould, and then commit to changing it from time to time, as you see fit. As you grow beyond the confines of the previous saving methods and prepare for a better financial future.
Heck, saving may not even be your goal. Think about what your financial wellness might look like and work towards that. Yes, it would definitely be helpful to have extra cash lying around in case of emergency. It may be a medical emergency; it may come in handy if you’re short on the bills; it may just feel good to have a buffer 0 whatever the reason, whatever YOUR reason, work towards that.
So, where will you start? How will you begin/continue to improve your relationship with money? It can be as simple as spending less on online shopping; buying the food you need, instead of the food you WANT; being more mindful about how you spend your money and your overall purchasing habits. It is always a good idea to think about how you’ve come to your relationship with money (what happened in your childhood or what kind of traumatic event led you to these beliefs), so you can identify your triggers and work on reducing them.
Continue working on you, for you and never forget that financial wellbeing is also a part of your wellness journey.