We save money so we can buy things we want, right?
And then we start saving again for the next purchase. It makes us feel good to know that we are disciplined enough to wait for something we really want.
As good as that feels, it’s not the best reason to save.
The best reason may be for your health. That’s right, your physical and mental health. According to a recent study, financial stress negatively affects our sense of well-being and our physical health (see John A. Sturgeon, Anne Arewasikporn, Morris A. Okun, Mary C. Davis, Anthony D. Ong, and Alex J. Zautra. “The Psychosocial Context of Financial Stress,” Psychosomatic Medicine, vol. 78, no. 2 , 134–43). The simple act of putting money away in a savings account every month for emergencies significantly reduces financial stress. In fact, in a 2013 survey, 84 percent of the respondents said that having money saved up did more for their sense of well-being than diet, exercise, or having an enjoyable job (Jenna Goudreau, “Saving Money Could Make You Happier,” Business Insider, Nov. 26, 2013.
So the question for most of us is “How do I get started?”
Here are some tips from the money section of U.S. News & World Report:
Other suggestions include the following:
Most importantly, pay your tithing first. Many financial advisers actually counsel their clients to give a percentage of their income to charity, noting that generosity is one of the principles of success. We know that tithing is one of the laws of heaven. Faithfully obeying this one law makes us more receptive to the Spirit—something we need when making important financial decisions.
This isn’t a commitment to live like a hermit; it’s just a little shift of mindset, and it begins by setting priorities. List them: Living healthily. Spending time with family. Building a retirement account. Serving a mission later in life.
Now adjust your spending habits accordingly. If you want to reduce stress, why not put that $100 a month into your retirement account instead of an expensive phone plan? There are many inexpensive phone plans that offer the same service. Perhaps limit going out to eat once a week. It’s much easier to do these things when you know your savings are going into a retirement account, toward a down payment on a house, or into a mission fund. In short, check your purchases against your priorities.
The time of reckoning.
Go through your expenses at the end of the month. Look at every purchase and ask yourself some very hard questions:
Going through these questions will help you identify your motivations for spending and the times when you are weak. Doing it every month will help you change your mindset. Sometimes what you need is a quick reminder. Write “Saving money makes me happy” on a small card and put it in your purse or wallet, right there where the money is.
As mentioned earlier, making these choices also makes you healthier. When we take responsibility for our spending habits, we take charge of our lives. It’s the same discipline we call upon to obey the Word of Wisdom, pay tithing, and keep the commandments. Financial responsibility likewise has blessings attached to it: we have peace of mind knowing we can survive a financial crisis, and we feel good about our future knowing we are prepared. Remember the Lord’s words:
Even if the amount of money we put into our savings account seems small, it’s still a step in the right direction. And when we pay our tithes and offerings, we take the Lord up on His promise to bless us: