Failing to save is a huge problem in the USA. Spending money you don’t have (taking on personal debt) and not even having emergency savings and retirement savings lead to failed financial futures. Even though those in the USA today are among the richest people ever to live many still seem to have trouble saving. Here is a simple tip to improve that result for yourself.
Anytime you get a raise split the raise between savings, paying off debt (if you have any non-mortgage debt), and increasing the amount you have to spend. I think too many people think financial success is much more complicated than it is. Doing simple things like this (and some of the other things, mentioned in this blog) will help most people do much better than they have been doing.
There are lots of ways to spend money. And many people find ways to spend all or more than all (credit card debt, personal loans…) they have which are sure ways to a failed financial future. So anytime you get a raise (a promotion, new job…) take a portion of that extra money and put it toward your financial future. The proportion can very but I would aim for at least 50% if you have any non-mortgage debt, don’t have a 6 month emergency fund, or are behind in saving for retirement, a house…
Exactly how you calculate if you are behind, I will address in a future post (or you can look around for more information). By taking this fairly simple action you will be setting yourself up for a successful financial future instead of finding yourself falling behind, as so many do. And then when things go badly, as they most likely will sometime during your life, you will have built up a financial position to draw on. Instead of, as so many do now, find that you were living beyond your means when things were going well – which it doesn’t take a genius to see will lead to serious problems when things take a turn for the worse.
So lets say you take a new job and get a raise of $4,000 a year. Instead of spending $4,000 more just put $2,000 away (pay off debt, add to your retirement savings, add to savings for a house, add to your emergency fund…). Then you get a promotion of another $3,000, increase your spending by $1,500 and save the rest. It is such a simple idea and just doing this you can find yourself in the top few percent of those making smart financial decisions. And if you get to the point that you are ahead in all your financial areas then you can take more of each raise you get (but most of the time you will have learned how valuable the extra saving are and figured out the extra toys really are not worth it). But if you want to, once you have created a successful financial life, you can choose to buy more toys.