Some folks have an epiphany when they hear Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman pontificating for the first time:
“Hey, I need to get out from under all this debt!”
This realization is the first step to your financial metamorphosis. Like a catapillar that becomes a beautiful butterfly, you first have to put yourself into a cocoon, saving your pennies and tackling credit card balances, student and car loans, and any other albatrosses with high interest rates. As you pay down your debt, you will slowly transform — you’ll grow wings, add color to your blase appearance and grow stronger. When the financial metamorphosis is complete, you’ll break out into the world completely changed, for all to see.
But before you can save, you need to get rid of your debts. Like a sworn enemy, they must be vanquished completely so they will not return to haunt you at a future time.
There’s no easy answer for those who ask, “How do I save money?” Saving begins with less spending. There is no other way around it, short of increasing your income and keeping your spending at the same level. Because as most of you can guess, when your income increases, your living expenses tend to creep upward with it. Perhaps it’s this keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality that leads to many money mistakes.
This doesn’t mean you need to live like a pauper. Do what feels comfortable: shop at thrift stores, clip coupons, drive an old beater. You don’t have to completely deprive yourself of the things you love. Maybe going out to eat once a week truly makes you happy. And that’s fine. But keep in mind that a semi-minimalist lifestyle — or “everything in moderation” — is the best way to balance a good quality of life with financial responsibility.
I love when people find the balance they need to keep themselves out of debt and on good financial footing. I don’t care if you follow Dave or Suze — as long as you have a plan and a focus, you’re well on your way to getting rid of debt and becoming a saver.
I’ve written about the “breaking point” — the point where spenders become savers. Me, I’ve always been a saver. But if you’ve had problems handling money, it’s absolutely possible for you to change your bad habits.