If you think you don't save enough money, you're not alone among your fellow Vancouver Islanders. In 2020, Statistics Canada found that, on average, Canadians were only saving $3.60 out of every $100 spent. Before we consider why we don't save enough, let's look at why we should all save more.
5 reasons to save more money
- Achieve short-term goals without relying on credit
Saving money helps you fund things that are important to you—from a new car, to that dream boat, to a Mt Washington ski vacation. With a clear goal and a little discipline, saving lets you get there faster than you might think, without building debt.
- Build a long-term nest egg
We all know what a great place the Island is to live and retire. Saving also lets you achieve longer-term goals, like funding a comfortable (or even early) retirement or paying for your children's education. These things may seem like a long way off, but future you will thank you for starting sooner rather than later.
- Earn more money
Another long-term benefit of saving is the opportunity to invest savings and/or earn interest through different types of savings accounts, some of which are tax-free to boost your savings even more.
- Protect against unknowns
Your roof might leak, your car might break down, or illness might stop you working. In the worst-case scenarios, an earthquake or other event can hit. Accessible emergency savings can help you through rough patches.
- Enjoy more freedom
Saving can give you more freedom and flexibility in life, such as when considering whether or not to follow a passion, change job, have children, or relocate.
"Often a change of mindset and some helpful tools is all it takes for you to flip your thinking."
— Lindsey Smith, CFP, Mobile Savings Coach, Coastal Community Credit Union
What's stopping you from saving?
Most people know they need to save more, but there are several good reasons why Canadians find saving difficult. Do any of these sound familiar?
"I have too much debt"
Too much debt can be a real barrier to saving. If you can pay your debt down through controlling your spending [link to Spending article] and better financial planning in general [link to Planning article], you can switch to paying yourself instead of your lender.
"I keep forgetting"
Forgetting to save or putting off saving is extremely common, which is why a number of tools are available to help you out.
"I never seem to have money"
You have two options with your money: spend it or save it. Of course, you have to spend a certain amount every month to cover bills and other living costs. It's what you do with the rest that's important. Even if you find yourself living paycheque to paycheque, saving is difficult but not impossible.
"I don't need to save"
If you have disposable income, saving for the future can seem like the least attractive choice when compared to spending money on more immediate things. "Often a change of mindset and some helpful tools is all it takes for you to flip your thinking," says Lindsey Smith, CFP, Mobile Savings Coach, Coastal Community Credit Union.
"I don't have much to save"
It can feel like saving is pointless when the cost of living rises faster than your income and you only have a little left over to put away. In fact, saving even just a small amount each month can start adding up quickly.
6 ways to kick-start your savings
Here are a few ways you can start saving tomorrow, or ideally today, to help you meet your financial goals.
- Create saving goals
It could be saving to build an emergency fund in a few months, renovate your deck next summer, or fund retirement 30 years down the line. "The important thing is to make saving goals part of your overall financial plan and budget," says Lindsey.
- Attack your debt
Focus on strategies to pay down high-interest loans and credit cards, and try to reduce your credit card use. While this can mean changing your spending habits, it's not as hard as you might think. Even small adjustments can make a big difference, and you'll soon find you have more disposable income to help you start or ramp up your saving.
- Trim your spending
Look closely at what you spend your money on and find places you can trim or make savings, whether it's eating out less often, changing mobile phone plan, or cancelling unused subscriptions.
- Set it and forget it
Set up a savings account for each of your savings goals, and name each of those accounts in online banking, eg "Emergency Fund" or "New Deck." "Pay yourself first by setting up an automatic monthly transfer of a specific amount from your chequing account into each of these savings accounts every pay day or at least monthly," says Lindsey.
- Capitalize on the unexpected
Unexpected events aren't always bad. If you get a raise, come into some money, or receive a tax rebate, consider saving a portion of it by depositing a lump sum into your savings account.
- Reward yourself
If saving was easy, we'd all be better at it. Consider adding a small short-term goal to your overall savings plan now and then, even just $100 for a nice meal out. When you reach one of your other goals, treat yourself.
"Remember, saving is a marathon not a sprint," says Lindsey. "The important thing is to take those first steps, even if you have to start slowly. Then tweak your savings plan as your life changes."
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