5 reasons you suck at saving money

Saving money!

I am going to say something that is probably going to hurt your feelings. I’m sorry in advance. But guess what? You suck at saving money.

Sometimes I feel as though tough love is the only answer, and when it comes to financial issues, tough love is almost always the answer. So I’m here to offer you some tough love. Please don’t be upset. I’m your friend, and I just want to help.

Here are 5 reasons you suck at saving money:

1. You “deserve it”

Yes, you do work hard, and yes, of course, you deserve to have nice things. But, if having nice things now means that you have a poor financial future, then you are just being childish.

There are only 4 things in life you actually need: food, water, shelter and clothing. Everything else is extra. Everything else is unnecessary (nice to have, but unnecessary).

Get over the fact that although you may deserve the extra things you want, you may not be able to afford them right now. Therefore, you cannot have those things until you are actually able to pay for them.

2. You don’t have a budget

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: creating a monthly budget is one of the best things you can do for your financial future. If you don’t have one, you’re likely throwing money away, which means you are unable to save (or, at least, you aren’t able to save very much).

A budget doesn’t have to be complicated. Figure out what your fixed expenses cost you, set aside at least 10% of your income for savings, and distribute the rest any way you want. Make sure that your savings is treated as a fixed expense. You should always pay yourself first.

3. You live in the moment

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being spontaneous, unless it is interfering with your finances in a negative way. If going out to the bar is important to you, you need to save up money before you can go. If you are at the mall and come across a pair of jeans that you just have to have, you’d better have the money to pay for them.

Give yourself an allowance. I know it sounds totally lame, but they are actually very helpful when it comes to impulse purchases. My husband and I each have a monthly allowance of $50 each (yours may be more or less, it depends on your finances) that we can spend on anything we want. I often spend mine on impulse purchases, such as clothing or fancy snacks. If you don’t spend all of your allowance one month, carry it over to the next month.

4. You don’t make enough money

I told you this article was going to be all about tough love, and some tough love that you may have to accept is that it’s possible you don’t make enough money – and that could be part of the reason you suck at saving.

Figure out exactly what your income is (the amount of money you actually take home) and then figure out what your monthly expenses are. If you are barely making enough to cover your expenses, or you are spending more than you make, you need to cut back on your expenses and you likely need to make more money.

5. You don’t make saving automatic

Never let your entire paycheque hit your chequing account. Ever. Set up an automatic transfer that will send money over to a savings account as soon as you are paid. Doing this means that you never see the savings go into your account, which means you don’t spend it. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

It doesn’t matter how much money you save, as long as you’re saving something. Start out with just a few dollars per month, then bump it up to $20, then $50, then $100, then $200… you get the idea.

Keep in mind that the older you are, the more you will need to be saving so that you have enough money to retire comfortably.

Just because you suck at saving money right now, doesn’t mean you can’t change your habits and become a money saving pro.

Don’t get discouraged, you can do it, and I will be standing right beside you cheering you on.


  1. Pat Ciulka

    I like it!! Keep up the great work!

  2. Melissa Stiles

    Good reminder! Thanks!

  3. Jen

    Regarding #1: You’re wrong, there are more things you “need” than just those four. Proper medical care is one big one, and yes, that sometimes means you – OMG GASP! – spend money on dental bills, optometrist bills, and yes, even medicine! Proper healthcare is a massively necessary thing to prevent a financial (and emotional) burden later in life!

  4. Maureen

    Add transportation to the list as well …

  5. Karen

    Nothing like a tough love pep talk – we all need it sometimes. I think the less disciplined we are with money, the more we need systems in place like automatic savings plans.
    And you are right, Cassie–there are many things that “call to us” that are not necessities at all. As a parent, I am working hard to make sure my kids have values that help them discern what is a necessity and what is a “want.” Having our eyes open to how blessed we are to have our basic needs cared for, helps keep us balanced.

  6. Angie

    I read something somewhere recently that changed my train of thought,
    Sticking with the concept of pay yourself and spending …..
    “Do not save what is left after spending, rather spend what is left after saving ”
    And “if you buy things you do not need, soon you will have to sell things you do need”

  7. Yeah Okay

    You forget about students? You think we like spending hundreds on textbooks, supplies and tuition? You’re a stay at home mom, so you wouldn’t get it, but there are many expenses you gotta pay for. Like transportation, residence, tuition, health plan, student loans after graduating? And getting a “higher paying job” is easier said than done. In a perfect world we only buy what we need, on sale, with coupons, rebates and some how get 90% of it free. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!

    Thanks for the condescending pep talk.

    • Jamie

      So, you’re too lazy to save AND too lazy to coupon, and you’re bitter about it to boot!

      It’s hilarious that you think a PARENT wouldn’t “get” having to pay for things like transportation, residence, tuition, health plan, when these are ALL the things that parents typically have to pay for, not just for themselves but also for their children, in addition to many other expenses parents get saddled with.

      By the way, I managed to go to college (to get a “higher paying job”…!), and save and coupon all at the same time… it’s called being frugal.

      • Kim

        Well said Jamie! I was a single parent for years with a mortgage, taking courses at night (yes buying text books and all), working full time, AND COUPONING! I couldnt have done it without the help of this blog and the money saved with coupons. so “YEAH OK” you sound like you havent lived in the adult world yet, not to be mean just what you come accross as in your comment. sorry 🙂 Yes Cassie missed some items that may be apply to some, but each person has their own individual needs. She is just putting the thought in your head as a quide not a bible. Life is short….dont be so bitter 🙂 Thanks Cassie for the post, great reminders!!

    • Joy

      It may not be possible for everyone but I graduated debt free from a bachelors and a masters degree. I didn’t use student lines of credit or goverment student loans either. I WORKED. From the age of 15, I worked 40hr work weeks every summer up until I graduated university. I also had a part time job during school.

      Every university program is demanding, so I don’t care about people complaining about their workload.

      My friends and I lived off campus as it was cheaper than staying in residence. We lived a little bit farther away than most people since it was cheaper. It took us a few minutes longer to get to campus but you have to make sacrifces.

      We used to borrow the Prof’s textbook and photocopy only the chapters that were needed which saved me hundreds of dollars.

    • Lisa

      You think that because she is an at home mom she doesn’t get how tight money can be!?!? She raises her children off one income, I am an at home mom and I have sacrificed a big portion of my family’s financial ‘comfort’ for me to be an at home mom. I really think that people need to realize that we aren’t ‘lucky’ to be an at home mom, we have learnt to live off less for our children. I also went to college and I paid for all those things, but I pre planned and saved a lot before starting school to pay for my supplies including books. I am sorry, but you have a very immature attitude about money.

  8. Caroline

    I love this, Cassie – it is too true:).

  9. Melanie D

    I lovee these articles!! Keep them coming!

  10. Susan

    Cassie tells it like it is. Sometimes is it ALOT easier said than done… but I whole-heartly agree with the pay yourself first concept. it doesn’t matter how small you start. the key is CONSISTENCY. even if you only manage to save $120 (10/month) that’s that 120 more than you had the year before. each year bump it up a little, you don’t miss what you can’t spend. Look at the very long future ahead instead of the immediately future and it eventually gets easier… ie jobs get better, school doesn’t last forever etc. Certainly circumstances play a part but if I can teach my 13 year old this and she managed to save $350 in less than years — she sacrificed a whole lot of her immediate wants, but saved almost every penny should go find (including going for a walk looking for pennies in parking lots –macs etc are gold mines to a kid lol), saved most of any money she got as bday gifts and saved the majority of her allowance (she gets 20 a month allowance) AND I DID NOT give in and hand her money when see needed it. So sure she spent some too, but she set a goal and managed to get there.

    So Yes Cassie, you might get criticized but keep on telling it like it is and handing out your advice. I take what I can and learn as I go. Thank you for all you do.

    • pnk3035

      Very well said Susan, Thanks

  11. Kris

    “Make more money” is something that Gail Vaz-Oxlade says often on Til Debt Do Us Part and Princess, but it really is easier said than done. Especially in a rural setting, opportunities for that “perfect” job are few and far between. My husband and I both have university degrees (which we are still paying for) but he hasn’t worked in his field in over 5 years. But we don’t want to move to a city, so I guess the trade-off for a lower cost of living is a comparatively lower income. I suppose what it comes down to is that, for us, cutting expenses is more realistic than increasing income.
    All the other advice is great, though.

  12. Heather R

    Great article Cassie! Sometimes a little tough love is needed. Things like transportation and an education are not necessities. They are privileges.

  13. Darrah Dunn

    I’m always amazed at how these ‘properly responsible’ kids go on about how tough it is and how a stay at home mom/dad wouldn’t understand. Really? We have our own struggles! Many of us have them expensive degrees but chose to sacrifice the all encompassing ‘salary’ to raise our kids instead of paying a daycare to do it for us. Sorry in advance to the uneducated ‘know-it-alls’ but for example, until you have been married, raised 7 kids with one on the way, and on $35000 a year…your “ideals” mean little. We live quite comfortably and have no debt… Oh wait, this is often considered a material world to young’uns and all too often about what we own(or don’t)… But because of savings and allowances…we also have many extra luxuries also. We EARN them, quite literally by not only getting paid from a job, but by taking a portion and saving it for months. We learn quickly what we really want and need. There’s no where near enough planning, education or even saving that can prepare you for the real world. I can educate my kids (yes, I home school) night and day and have them graduate with amazing marks but unless I have also taught them how to budget, save, shop and run a household…I would consider myself a failure. Schooling is only a portion of who we are. Thanks Cassie for the great article and reminders! Keep up the controversial work 😉

  14. Kat

    Jobs here are few and in between.It’s either farm work(from june-october) or retail. iam the only one working in a 6 people household in my father-in-laws house. we still pay old bills and new ones. i wish i could save money but its easier said then done. we are trying to have our own animals so we dont have to shop in stores. coupons are great but if you dont normally buy what is on the coupon then they are pretty useless. as well as in canada we have the rule where its one coupon per purchase which sux. cause i’d love to have a stock pile

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