You may have asked yourself the question of “why can’t I save money?” Well, in this article, I’ll share ten reasons why you can’t save money and actions you should implement instead.
I get it; sometimes, it’s just nearly impossible to save money. After you receive your paycheck, you have to fill up your gas tank, pay for bills, rent and food, and you’re basically left with nothing.
If you don’t have a single dollar saved, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. 45% of American’s say that they have $0 in their savings account.
So, instead of wallowing in despair, I’ve come up with a list of ten reasons why you can’t save and what to do instead. If you can implement at least a couple of these tips into your daily life, you’ll be able to save more.
Please note that these ten reasons are aimed at a general population of people, and some may not apply to you whatsoever.
Why is it hard to save money?
Countless factors make it hard to save money, including a lack of discipline, unnecessary spending, and lack of financial literacy. On the other end of the spectrum, a lack of income, high living expenses, high healthcare costs, and education expenses can make it super challenging to save.
While we can’t change the situation ourselves, we have to live and work around it.
Whether the list helps you save an extra $5 or $500 a month, any number is an excellent place, to begin with.
Anyways, let’s get started on the ten reasons why you can’t save money.
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate and referral links. I may earn a small commission on purchases or signups through links at no extra cost to you. Please read my full disclosure here.
Why Can’t I Save Money?
1. You pay too much on subscriptions & memberships
We’re so lucky to have countless options for online streaming services, gym memberships, apps, and gaming services, but it also comes with the consequence of not using them enough.
Did you know that Americans spend an average of $237.33/month on subscription services?
That’s a cost of $2847.96 a year, just on subscription services. 🤯
While most services cost under $20 a month, it’s a combination of them that takes a blow to your bank account.
So, to combat this, you should round up all of your subscription services, put them into a spreadsheet and work out how much they cost compared to how much you use them.
For example, if you listen to Spotify for two hours every day, keep it. It’s clearly worth the subscription price and how frequently you use it.
But if you’re only watching a streaming service once a month, then it’s time to cancel your subscription.
2. You don’t use cashback apps
Cashback apps are the holy grail for shopping online nowadays. If you aren’t aware of them, you should start using them as soon as possible.
Cashback apps give you a percentage back on purchases made through their links. The rates can range anywhere from 1% to 80% and cover significant stores like Amazon, Target, H&M, plus thousands more.
While they can promote impulse purchases, you can still use them to your advantage. Make sure to only shop at stores that you usually would and wait for upsized cashback deals.
I mainly use upsized cashback deals to save 30% on discounted clothing items. For example, a T-shirt that’s RRP for $25, with a 25% sale, is $18.75. I’ll then use a 30% cashback deal to save an extra $5.62 off that shirt, costing me a total of $13.13 for a $25 t-shirt.
See, if you utilize the cashback deals to their full potential, you’ll come out on top.
3. You have debt
Debt is such an important thing to pay off before you start saving money. Debt hinders your paycheck’s full potential, and paying it off can increase your financial security.
Not only is it essential to pay it off for your financial wellbeing, doing so will also reduce stress and improve your mental health and wellbeing.
The average credit card interest rate is 19.49%, and it is essential to pay it off in full every month. If you have outstanding debts, pay them before you start saving money.
All of the money that you’re repaying in interest could’ve been used to put into your emergency fund, a savings account, retirement fund, or even just bills.
Instead of buying that unnecessary coffee or $15 breakfast, put the money towards paying your debt. Your future self will thank you.
4. You aren’t cooking your own food
I know that dining out and takeaway is super convenient, but it’s also burning a hole in your pocket.
Did you know that it’s often five times more expensive to get delivery than to cook at home?
Not only will you be saving money by cooking at home, but you can also make your meals exactly how you’d desire and have leftovers for the next few lunches or dinners.
I know it can be intimidating to cook every day, but you’ll be able to save so much more money.
5. Little payments add up quickly
Humans are great at forgetting that little payments can add up to vast amounts of an extended period.
It’s always little payments that don’t seem like a lot that adds up over a year.
That $3 coffee you buy before work every day is costing you $720 a year. Or, that $5 sandwich you buy twice a week is costing you $520 a year.
“Oh it’s only a few dollars here and there” is the reason why you can’t save money. You need to think about your purchases in the bigger picture.
If you’re strapped for cash, you should be ensuring that you don’t buy coffee or lunch every day, and you cut back on your living expenses as much as you can.
You don’t have to miss out and go cold turkey, just treat yourself to these items on fewer occasions.
6. You don’t pay yourself first
An excellent way to boost your savings is by paying yourself first. Paying yourself first proposes that you pay yourself initially when you receive your paycheck and then pay your bills.
Paying yourself first allows you to put money away into your savings accounts and then spend the bills on top of that. Doing so will reduce your spending for the week/month and ensure that you’ve made adequate savings.
The figure could be 5% or 10% of your paycheck. Again it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re putting something away for yourself.
7. You don’t automate savings or round up purchases
Instead of manually saving money every week, why not do it automatically?
Most major banking accounts will help you save money automatically every week. All you have to do is set up a recurring transfer between your spendings and savings account.
It could be $5 or $100 a week; it doesn’t matter as long as you’re building up your savings account.
Also, specific banks allow you to round up your spendings as an extra way to save. Every time you buy something with that card, the bank will round up the purchase to the nearest dollar and save it automatically for you.
For example, spending $8.05 will be rounded to $9, and 95¢ will be automatically saved. I’ve used this method to save hundreds over a year.
8. You aren’t living below your means
Another reason why you probably can’t save is that you aren’t living below your means.
This means that your spend less than you make and have leftover money at the end of every month.
The leftover money can be used for whatever you’d like and put into your savings, retirement, or emergency funds.
To live below your means, make sure to track your money and where you spend it. You should also reduce impulse purchases, negotiate your bills/rent, downsize your housing, and live more frugally.
9. You aren’t participating in a savings challenge
Participating in a savings challenge is a fun way to get pushed to save money every week.
If you’re someone who needs that little extra push to save, then this is the method you should engage in.
A savings challenge will drive you to save money every week and end up with the predetermined amount after 52 weeks.
Here are a few savings challenges I’ve created that you can download and print for yourself. They range from $1000 to $12,000 for 52 weeks.
PS: You can start a savings challenge any time throughout the year; there are no set dates.
10. You don’t have a SMART savings goal
The last of the ten reasons you can’t save money is that you don’t have a SMART savings goal set.
A SMART goal is:
- Specific: What exactly do you want to save for? E.g., I want to save for a starter emergency fund.
- Measurable: How much do you plan to save? E.g., an emergency fund is $1000.
- Attainable: Is it realistic to save for? E.g., Yes, if I cut back on expenses and impulse purchases, I can save for it quicker.
- Relevant: Is it really worth saving for? E.g., Yes, because I’m in dire need of a safety net.
- Timebound: How long will it take to meet the goal? E.g., 7.5 months if I save $30 a week.
See how I’ve set out a clear action plan to save $1000 for an emergency fund. It would be best if you did the same thing.
Having a goal set and written down will undoubtedly decrease impulse purchases, as you’re more inclined to save for the goal quicker.
So there we have the top ten reasons why you can’t save.
I get it; saving money can be challenging, but hopefully, you can implement a few of these savings methods to curb your bad habits and start building up your savings account.
Remember, millions of others have less than $1000 in savings, so you’re not alone. Even saving an extra $20 a month is enough to start building healthy financial habits that will stick with you for the rest of your life.
Have these tips helped you figure out why you can’t save money?