The Anti-Lottery: Save Steady

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If I enjoyed giving guilt trips, I might want to talk to the guy who’s spent $10 a week for the past 5 years trying to win the lottery. I’d want him to have kept his box of 2,600 losing tickets. Then, I would show up with a box of $2,600 in cash and ask him which he’d rather have after 5 years. And even though I don’t enjoy dishing out guilt trips, and most people don’t save their losing lottery tickets, the reality is most of us want to skip the discipline and just get to the rich part.  We might even use wanting to be generous as an excuse to want to get rich (Soap box moment: Don’t wait until you consider yourself rich to start to be generous.  You’ll never be generous.)

One in three people in the United States believe that winning the lottery is the only way to financial security. Look, people win the lottery. I can’t argue that. People also get struck by lightning, and I can argue that you are six times more likely to get struck by lightning than winning the average state-lottery (about 45 times more likely if we’re talking about one of those multi-state lotteries).  Plus, did you know that after five years, two out of every three people who have won a big lottery would rather not have won the lottery?  Too much money too quick messes with you and those around you.

“Saving steady” saving means you give up on get-rich-quick chances like: the lottery, investment ideas guaranteed to make you rich, and striking oil in your backyard. Those things usually end up just wasting your money, and in the case of trying to strike oil, your landscaping. A good rule of thumb is to try to put aside 10% of what you make each week or each month for saving for the future. Do this steadily and over time you will watch the balance in your savings account and understand what good discipline can do.

But let’s say 10% is too high a place to start.  No problem, start where you can, but don’t aim too low.  Comb through your spending to see what you can cut back on, and devote that amount to savings.  Need some incentive?  Don’t look at what you can save each month.  Instead, take that amount and look at what you would be saving each year, or what you would have saved at the end of 5 years.  Even $25 a month turns into $300 at the end of the year, and $1,500 at the end of five years!  No matter how small, you’ll be glad you started.  Plus, increasing the amount you’re saving is easier than starting to save.  So get started!

 

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