6 Lies You Tell Yourself About Saving Money

saving money tips, frugal living, saving money ideas in your 20s

We all do it, tell ourselves those little lies to justify our purchases, then wonder why saving money is so hard and where all the money went at the end of the month. I used to tell myself each of these lies, spending all of my hard-earned money, thinking it I would still have enough to save. Instead, I always found myself wondering where it all went. It was especially frustrating because, when I calculated my earnings and weighed them against my payments, everything added up. I should’ve been saving easily, but that’s not what happened.

If you tell yourself any of these lies, and expect to save money, just stop. Stop believing the lies and justifications you come up with and practice some of these suggested action steps instead. I promise, from personal experience, how you’re currently spending your money isn’t helping you in the long run. So get honest with yourself, and shed some light on the money messages you’re letting in.

6 Lies You Tell Yourself About Saving Money:

I don’t need to track where my money is going.

If you have enough money to go around, you don’t need to stick to a rigid budget and track your purchases, right?? Sorry, but you still have to track them. At least loosely. If you have some semblance of self-awareness with where the funds are going, you’ll have a better idea of ways to save. That self-awareness can also be used to spend less in areas you’re overindulging in.

ACTION STEP: Download a receipt tracker app or link your accounts to apps like Penny or other budgeting ones that will give you a place to quickly review where your funds are going.

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I can just save whatever’s leftover after I spend.

Chances are, even if you’re determined to leave money over to put in savings later, it probably won’t happen. If you really want to save, it’s best to do it right off the bat by paying yourself first, and then giving your money to the big box retailers and whomever else!

ACTION STEP: As soon as you get paid, put some of that money in savings. Better yet, see if your employer will let you divert a portion of your paycheck directly into savings. Out of sight out of mind! This way you won’t have the option to overspend. And if you absolutely need to, you can take that money back out of savings again later.

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No need to worry about the future – times will always be this easy!

Realize when times are good that it definitely won’t always be this way. Sorry to burst your spend happy bubble. Actually, when times are good, that’s the time to cushion your emergency fund and savings plans!  The unexpected will eventually come up, don’t let it take you by surprise. Just as in life, it’s never wise to become too confident with your money situation. This attitude may come back to bite you.

ACTION STEP: Think back on historically “good times” of the year for you financially. Examples may include your birthday, end of year bonuses, holidays, etc. Anytime where you can pretty much guess you’ll get a little windfall of money. Instead of planning on spending all that cash on bottle service at the club or a new wardrobe, divert a percentage of it to your emergency fund or savings plans right away, then plan for some fun with the other portion.

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Ehhh, I’m just going to avoid checking my accounts because that’s too #cringeworthy and I’m stressed enough

Guess what’s going to make you even more stressed in the long run? Not checking those accounts. If you don’t know what’s in your account, you can put yourself into a lot of financial danger. Not only because you’re ignorant of your remaining balance, but because someone else could be ripping you off. Nothing like finding out someone has been charging up a storm on your credit card. No one is going to care more about your finances than you.

ACTION STEP: Get in the habit of checking all of your accounts every day or weekly (I would recommend daily though!). Sometimes it’s a one-off mistake like you’ll get double charged, a server will enter the wrong tip amount, other times it could be several charges from a fraudster who got your information. Either way, better to catch it quick and resolve immediately.

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I can just charge big purchases

Sometimes they creep up unexpectedly. Just like it’s easy to lose track of where money is going, it’s easy to lose track of where time is going too. Admit it, every month that rent date seems like it comes out of nowhere, and way too soon. And have you ever had that moment of sheer panic when you suddenly wonder if you missed a payment (or birthday or work due date or any other crucial day for that matter?) Always be thinking about those big purchases and how you can budget for them.

ACTION STEPS: Breaking this into two parts: recurring (like rent) and one off big purchases (like new furniture):

Recurring: Keep a calendar of scheduled payment dates and check it often. Setting reminders or alarms to go off a few days beforehand helps a lot too.

One Off’s: Figure out how much you’re going to need and when you would like to make the purchase. For example, I need $6,000 for new furniture in 6 months. Great! So that works out to about $1,000 a month I am going to put into a savings account. This is now a fixed expense for me the next six months as I am saving. *Keep in mind, that these “savings” are different from your emergency fund. 

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Little purchases don’t matter

…and your morning coffee run is a #haveto. Just like big purchases, little ones matter too, probably even more in some ways. When the living is easy, coffee runs and other minor purchases seem like no sweat. Until you sit down and realize that’s $500 per month you’ve spent on lunches, coffees, and snacks during the work week. And maybe you can even afford them, but make sure you’re aware that’s where the money is going in case an emergency does come up and you need to find that “spare change” in your spending. Mindless spending usually leads to loads of trouble.

ACTION STEP: Stop using cash for these items and instead use a debit or credit card. From there, I am going to bring it back full circle and to number one’s action step and remind you to download an app like Penny or some other one to help you see and understand where you’re money is going. Or else, again, check those accounts daily so you can actually see where those little purchases are going.

[RELATED] Overspending? Avoid These Daily Pitfalls

As a last note, don’t give yourself the guilt trip if you’re doing any or all of these things. Everyone does them. Just be more conscious of them, and your savings account will thank you.

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  • Oh my goodness. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve avoided looking at my bank account because I knew it would stress me out. It’s the worst. I really need to be better at controlling my expenses. I love the tips you shared here!

  • Oh man, all of these for me! I need financial help! Ha ha! I actually avoid looking at where my money is going because I know I’m awful with it. I need to be more responsible.

  • Katherine

    Ahhh, those are all so true! I was always the sucker thinking, “well, we’ll only make MORE money as time goes on”. HA. And the little expenses! I started saving $40 a month when I started making my coffee at home. #littlewin I need to download the Penny app!

  • mckenna bleu

    Such a great post. Definitely something everyone struggles with.

  • This post is so true!!!! Love it. I for sure struggle with money sometimes!

  • Kyla Matton Osborne

    So true! Especially avoiding looking at account balances when things are going badly. It’s tough to see your bank balance dwindling or your bills getting bigger. But knowing now means you can take action before things get even worse.

  • LOL I love the brutal honesty there. Thankfully I’ve been able to utilize most of the strategies you already discuss. I treat saving like its a payment. I complete all actual payments and pay into my savings (especially important when I have income tax and dry spells to consider as a freelancer) THEN I see what I have leftover to spend… sometimes its nothing haha

  • I’m amazing at talking myself OUT of doing what I know I SHOULD! I needed this kick in the pants reminder today!

  • I feel personally attacked by the first and fourth ones, lol! Ugh, I know what I need to do. I guess it’s time to do it. I’ll thank myself later! And thank you, for the wake up call 🙂

  • My Veteran Woman Life

    Definitely a wake up call! I’m so guilty of most of these lol!

  • Great tips! I definitely do some of these and need to fix that asap.

  • Audrey Knizek

    I use the app Mint to track my spending and I love it! I can connect my credit and debit cards to it and see where every penny is going. I also move a portion of my paycheck into my savings the second it gets deposited into my checking account.

  • Allison Ellzey

    Lol I’ve probably told myself ALL of these at some point in my 26 years. Luckily, I think I’m doing a bit better and I love these tips!

  • I definitely laughed out loud, literally, a few times reading this, haha! Such a great and down-to-earth post. Definitely one we all millennials need to read!

  • I love this post! Because even as a minimalist who hates spending money, I do a lot of these things sometimes! So good – everyone needs to read this!

  • Mandy Baker

    This is so true! When hubby and I first got married we both had debt. It took a lot of hard work to get it down and to live frugally! We went to a cash only system and it helped tremendously!

  • So much good advice here! The little purchases definitly add up! And I agree, always check on your accounts, even if you’re stressed or scared to. That’s the most important time to do it!

  • Ashley Peggs

    These are things that are so true! The little things do add up and it is important to save for the future! We do the debt snowball and have been loving how it is working out for us!

  • I told myself all of these before I had to really buckle down and start paying bills. Now I budget out all of my bills every check and whatever I have I spend a little on what I want and the other I save. Great post!

  • I’ve told myself all of these before. The little purchases definitely add up!

  • Jos A

    Man, I totally needed to read this! I’m horrible about spending a little here and there thinking it’s okay, but it does add up. I like your idea to track purchases using a credit/debit card so we can see how much we’re really spending.

  • Ugh, I try to avoid looking at my bank account, but I know I shouldn’t. Most of the time I save BEFORE I spend, and whatever I have left after I spend. Luckily I don’t have a credit card anymore, so that makes things a little easier for me!

  • UGH I’ve been guilty of a few of these before…but I’ve been on a kick lately to overcome all of it and just get my ish in line, completely, totally. It’s so true, little things really do add up. Compounding is a real thing, in finance and in LIFE!

  • Kristine Circenis

    WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. I cannot advocate enough for doing that. Even if you’re not a budget and are looking to budget in the future, it’s the easiest way to see where the hell your money is going.

  • I was in the “avoid looking at my accounts” camp for too long! I’ve gotten into the habit of checking in a few times a week at least, and while at first it stressed me out, now it calms me down to know that I know exactly where all of my money is going!

  • These are all very important things to remember, especially those little purchases! They seriously add up without you even realizing it!

  • This is all so important! Especially about tracking your purchases. I never used to keep track where my money was going other than just checking if what was on my statement was actually me. But not that I’m out of school and have bills to pay and loans to deal with, tracking things makes it so much easier for me to see where my money is going every month. It is definitely is an eye-opener!

  • The last one really hit me hard, because my statements are filled with MANY of these LITTLE purchases! Thanks for all the great advice on this! Thank God, I’m partially kind of good at saving, but sometimes these tips make all the difference! 🙂

  • #2 gets me ALL THE TIME. If I don’t save FIRST then I won’t save anything at all!

  • Not checking my account is so me lol I’m like… I’ll just wait until next month so I won’t stress out. But at the end… the not knowing makes it worse. So so true!

  • My boyfriend uses Mint religiously but my bank is so small that it doesn’t work with the app. I need to find one that does! I tend to splurge a lot on clothes and other things that I don’t really need so I have to start tracking better! And saving more!

  • Trish

    I am often guilty about saving what’s leftover after I spend. This is a great list and some good food for financial thought! I have tried to do better with small purchases — I actually tracked them with a little notebook for a while. That helped!

  • Thena

    Great post, saving money is hard work. I am pretty back about tracking, for sure!

  • Casey Cody Flournoy

    Great info! It’s little purchases that always get me off track!

  • The little purchases are what always get me! “It’s only $5…”, but when you buy $20 things in a month that cost “only $5”, you’ve suddenly spent $100 on fast food and rented movies!

  • Courtney Drew

    Great advice!! Its the little things that add up the quickest and make the most difference. I track everything in a spread sheet and color code it as luxury and essential and then you can see how many times coffee was a luxury and you can see how much you have spent in that category. it works for me!

    xo CourtneyDrew

  • This is so spot on. My fiancé is basically guilty of all of them and me too at some point or another. I love love love your action steps/advice for each one.

  • Man this is such an important discussion to have! I am in a weird place where I save a lot but I also like to spend a lot. I definitely need to keep better track of my receipts, but one thing that helps is to put money into my savings account first.

  • Anna Hubbard

    Oh gosh I make these excuses all the time it’s so bad!! I need to download one of those money tracking apps!

  • Haha I sometimes don’t check my account after a big purchase because it is #cringeworthy!

  • jillconyers

    Saving money can be so hard! It’s tough for me and it’s something I am trying to work on with my kids right now. So important to instill the right values in them from a young age. I am passing this post onto them!

  • jaspertyler

    This was a great article. I am guilty of most of those things. Thanks for all this value. I look forward to looking through other articles on your blog!

  • Oh my gosh, I’ve told myself ALL of these lies before getting a grip on my finances. Never, ever, ever, will I ever play myself like that. I regret not learning about finances sooner but I’m so happy to be able to not use those lies on me again. Better late than never!

  • Great post. I’ve been spending wwwaaay too much last months. Like an obsession!

  • Ha this post is so true!! Saving money can be hard, but I like to save before I spend anything!

  • Shani Ogden

    Great tips! My husband and I both keep an eye on our accounts and have a budget that helps keep us on track. I like the tip about putting the money into savings first. We have an automatic deposit set up that moves money from our checking to our savings after every paycheck.

  • Oyinkan Ogunleye

    I slack w/tracking where my $ is going. Smh. I used to out it in an excel sheet. Gotta get back to it!

  • This is a bit random, but could you tell me where that end table organizer in the photo is from? It’s amazing!

  • I love them! My husband used to have a prepaid card and the regulations for the financial technology space are beast! I’ve personally used Mint, Penny, Learnvest, and one other that was through Invibed.com

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