I Can’t save money! 7 reasons why & how to fix them

Have you ever found yourself thinking ‘I can’t save money’? Well, you are not alone.

According to a new Bankrate survey, 21% of working American’s are saving NOTHING at all. And you can bet it is a similar story in the UK and elsewhere.

Many of us feel stuck in a rut when it comes to saving money, especially when you don’t have a lot of money left over after bills and other expenses.

Growing your savings can be an uphill battle for a lot of people, but they are necessary.

Building your savings can help provide a safety net in worst case scenarios. Such as, if your car suddenly breaks down (we’ve all been there), or your hours at work drop.

By having a small sum of money in place it can offer you peace of mind, should something happen. The biggest disadvantages of not saving money can be the consequences that follow.

Why Can’t I save Money?

When you don’t save money it’s usually because you are spending unconsciously and are not focused on keeping some of your money for later use (saving). Saving money or not saving it is not about how much you earn. It’s about how much you KEEP.

I can’t save money – Saving Money When You Feel Like You Can’t

Say your car did break down for example, you don’t have the money to fix it right away and now you have to use public transport until you have the money for repairs.

Well now you are spending even more money paying for tickets, which means it will take even longer to get the money together. And that’s assuming you only have to buy tickets for yourself!

If you had enough money in savings to cover the initial repairs, you wouldn’t have needed to spend even more money on public transport. This is one of many possible consequences that can occur when you struggle to save money!

And one I hope to help you avoid.

Profile of human hand writing on lined financial notebook with dollar bills beside them
Turn I can’t save money into I CAN save money

i can’t save money to save my life: How To Save Money When You Have None

I know, that probably sounds really counterproductive, right? How are you supposed to save money you don’t have?

Well, a good first step is making a budget. In order to start saving you need to know exactly what you are earning, what you are spending, and where that money is being spent.

After all, you can’t make a plan without all of the details!

By making a budget you can figure out what bills and payments you have, when they are paid, and how.

From there you can begin to figure out which ones you really need, and if there are any that you can reduce or even cancel!

Think about things like expensive mobile data plans when you spend most of your day on WIFI, or whether or not you need Netflix, Prime, Hulu and Disney+. (Maybe you could manage with just one or two for a year and save on the others?).

It also helps you to know when you need to have money in your bank account.

We’ve all had times when our bills come out right before payday, and often incur a late charge. If that happens every month then those charges soon add up.

Writing out each bill with the date it needs paying by, gives you the opportunity to organize them.

Many companies will let you change what days your bill is charged on. Now is a good time to utilize this and have all your bills come out just after you get paid.

This can help you avoid those nasty late fees. Not to mention, it makes dividing up the rest of your money much easier when you know everything has already been paid!

Why can’t I seem to save money?

It’s no wonder so many of us are walking around lamenting ‘I can’t save money to save my life!’ There are so many influences out there that encourage you to spend money. That tell you, you deserve to treat yourself. What you don’t see is companies encouraging you to not buy and to save money instead.

Personal spending plan text written on beige spiral bound notebook to show how I can't save money
Why can’t I save money? You need to learn how to save money successfully

Creating a savings plan

So now you know what you need to pay out each month, you should have a better idea of what you have left to spend on non-necessities. This includes things like, buying clothes, eating out or ordering takeaways etc.

But you also need to consider how much of it you want to save. It doesn’t have to be hundreds, even just $50 a month will add up. It works out at just over $10 a week, but will amount to an extra $600 within a year.

And that is assuming you decide not to save extra! (sounds pretty manageable when we put it like that right?)

Now what is left is exactly what you have to spend. And all you need to do from there is divide it by how many weeks there are until your next payday to give you a weekly amount!

Related posts:

10 of the Best 52 Week Money Challenges For You

How To Save 10K in A Year, And Some!

Why Is Saving Money So Difficult?

If it really is as simple as; create a budget, juggle around the payment dates and divide what’s left, why is it so difficult to save money in the first place? That’s just three easy steps.

Well, life isn’t generally that simple. Sometimes bills are more expensive than anticipated, or a large expense (like car repairs) comes and wipes out what little you have.

Which is why one of the best places to start is by minimizing the outgoings you have, to maximize what you can save, even if it is only a few extra dollars.

And that is why the best time to start is now, so you can get a head start. Saving money feels impossibly hard, until you do it. Then you wonder why it took you so long.

How Can I Force Myself To Save Money?

The most efficient way to force yourself into saving money, is by giving it a purpose. Set a goal, say at $1,500 you get to treat yourself to that spa day you have wanted for so long. Or that you will buy a new car. This will help motivate you into wanting to put as much into that savings pot as you can. Even when it is difficult.

What happens when you don’t save money?

If you don’t save money you will end up in debt. When you don’t save money into an emergency fund, you have nothing to fall back on when a crisis hits. Whereas when you save money, you can manage the expensive, difficult times. You don’t get into debt when you save money every month.

What do you do when you can’t save money?

The first thing you need to do is take a step back and look at yourself. Can’t save money? Or prefer to spend money? Which is it? If you stick to a budget you can save money.

Even people living on a low income can save money when they put their mind to it. You’ve just got to be willing to spend less in order to have savings.

Is it OK not to save money?

If you’ve got a fully funded emergency fund (6-12 months of essential spending), your sinking funds all topped up for the next year AND your retirement accounts are fully maxed out.

Then yes, maybe it is ok not to save money. If this is not you (and it’s not me either) then you need do need to find a way to prioritize saving some money.

A not happy woman in red top turning piggy bank upside down above her head to show I can't save money
The consequences of not saving money when you need some can be hard

What Are The 7 Biggest Difficulties When Trying To Save Money?

Even once you have made your budget, it can still be incredibly difficult to put it into action.

And don’t worry, you are far from alone if you are still struggling to save! Good money management is a tough skill to crack and takes time to master.

But if you find yourself struggling to consistently meet your saving goals, these could be some of the things holding you back.

1. Your budget is not realistic

If you still find you can’t save money, then a good first step is re-evaluating your budget and making sure it is realistic. This applies to overspending, but also under spending.

You need to find a healthy balance between penny pinching and indulgence. It’s perfectly okay to go out for a meal or to a movie, as long as it isn’t excessive!

Related post: How To Fix Budgeting Mistakes Right Now – 5 Simple Steps

2. You have no goals for your money

As I touched upon earlier, if you are saving with no budgeting goals then you will struggle to find the motivation needed.

By creating a long term financial goal, you are less likely to indulge in ‘small’ rewards that gratify you now.

Your financial goal can be as big as a weekend away when you hit $1,500, or a simple spa day that you’ve had your eye on for weeks.

3. You keep using your credit cards

I find credit cards are a slippery slope; on one hand they can help you pay off big bills fast.

But then you have to pay it back, and many CC’s can come with extortionate interest rates that end up costing you valuable money. Money that could have otherwise been saved.

If you whip out your credit card too often, try using the cash envelope system instead. This is where you use cash (only) to pay for many things like groceries, entertainment, gas and clothes.

Related post: What To Do When Credit Card Debt Becomes A Problem

Alert girl at laptop with credit card in hand to show why I can't save money.
Think you can’t afford to save money? Think again

4. You aren’t paying off your debt

This isn’t to say you can’t afford to save money until your debt is paid off. But the longer you leave your debt, the more interest incurred.

Making what may have been a manageable payment, into a far more pricey one! Debt is one of the biggest consequences of not saving money. For advice on paying off debt vs building savings, give this post a read.

Related post: How To Pay Off Debt Fast And Still Have A Life

5. You ignore the small spending

One of the easiest ways to boost your savings is to cut out small unnecessary spending. Sure spending $3/$4 on a coffee every day before work may not seem like much. But over a week that adds up to nearly $30!

Over the course of the month that’s over $120. It doesn’t feel that expensive in the moment, but putting that $4 into savings each day will be far more rewarding than caffeine.

6. You think you need everything you buy

Impulse spending can be a really tricky habit to kick. Especially if you feel like you have to buy every nifty gadget you see.

But let’s be honest here, many of those purchases often end up forgotten about and are left to gather dust. When you see something and you think you need it, ask yourself;

  • Does it fulfill a purpose?
  • Will I regret this in a month?’ and
  • Could the money be put to better use?

If you hesitate on any of those questions, then it is probably better to just put it back on the shelf.

Related posts:

How To Stop Spending Money: 12 Tips You Need

How To Stop Spending Money On Unnecessary Stuff

7. You eat out too often

Saving money doesn’t have to mean no more eating out ever. However if you really want to see a change it may mean limiting how often it happens.

If you eat out 3 times a week and spend $20 on each order, that’s $260 a month! If you limit yourself to eating out once a week, you can put an extra $200 in savings just from that.

Related posts:

15 Cheap Ground Beef Recipes We All Love To Make

20 Easy Cheap Vegan Recipes Everyone Will Devour

15 Cheap And Comforting Chicken Dinners On a Budget

21 Budget Meatless Meals To Save Money

woman putting money in small piggy bank and recording her financial basics on laptop to show why can't I save money.
Learn how to save money when you have none (or think this)

I can’t seem to save money from my salary long term: Keep Your Savings, In Savings

It may sound strange, but let me ask you this; how many times have you put money into savings, only to spend it shortly after?

I’m guessing it may have happened a few times! It is something that every single person is guilty of, but it is a habit that you have to break to quickly grow your savings.

So let us take a look at a few ways on how to save money and not spend it shall we?

Have a separate account for your savings

This can prove to be incredibly helpful as it makes it harder to just swipe your card and overspend!

Pay all of your bills when you are paid

This prevents unexpected payments eating into what should have been saved money.

Wait before you buy

This can be a great habit if you find yourself spending impulsively. Give yourself a time period (e.g., 3 days, the time it takes to walk the shop etc.) if you are still thinking about it and wish to buy it, then do so after.

For bigger purchases, see if you can hold out longer using the 30 day rule.

Make your own coffee

Starbucks may taste better, but your finances will thank you for taking an extra five minutes to brew your own coffee at home! Small pennies add up over time.

Plan your meals

If you plan your meals you lower the chances of you getting take out because you don’t know what to cook. (Obviously a treat is okay, but regular take outs are bad for your wallet and your health!)

Create a meal plan and go grocery shopping for all your meals instead. You’ll save a decent sum of money this way.

If you can, do it yourself

Stop taking your car to the car-wash and spend a few hours next Saturday cleaning it yourself, or weed your own yard. This is a very simple way to save some pennies!

consider the purchase in terms of your own time

How many hours do you need to work to pay for it?

So if you want a $100 television, and you earn $8.76 an hour, it would take nearly 11.5 hours for you to earn back what you paid. Is it really worth it?

5 small piles of coins with model houses on top of three of them to signify different financial categories to I can't save money to save my life!
You can learn how to save your money and not spend it

Turning why I can’t save money to save my life into: yes I can!

We have all experienced a time in our lives where we have tried and tried to save, but just cannot seem to manage.

Many people will accept the mindset of ‘I can’t save any money’ and just roll with the debt and stresses that come with having no savings.

Hopefully I have helped you see that this doesn’t need to be the case!

With the right budget, and adjusting your spending habits you too can build your savings, even if it is only a few dollars at a time.

We all have to start somewhere, and the sooner you do, the sooner your savings can grow!

Start taking back control of your money by grabbing your copy of the Money Saving Starter Guide today.


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Last Updated on 6th February 2022 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

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