I’m not very good at saving.
Or, at least, I was not before.
Saving is hard. It requires will power, determination, foresight, and thought.
So, I say I’m not good at it. But I do it anyway. And that, my friends, is how I know I’m on the right path.
I can say that as the months pass, saving money gets a little easier. I’m especially proficient as saving for “extras.” As the wife of a medical school student, money is tight, and our bank account is filled with large sums of “fake” money from student loans that would make you wake up in the night screaming if they belonged to you.
However, we’re not the type to live a boring life. We love to travel. We’re obsessed with fine food (and pretty much any other tempting, shiny thing this beautiful world has to offer.)
Yet, spending loan money on these things, however grand, just feels wrong. So we use our loan money and my income to cover our living expenses and school tuition as they were intended, and I work several writing gigs on the side to save up for fun things.
The trick – and my secret weapon – is putting my extra money from these gigs in my SmartyPig account the second I get it. As a writer, I typically get paid by my employers throughout the month. Before I can even think about using it, I’ve sent it to live in the belly of my “Macbook Computer Fund” Pig, who I’ve affectionately named Peggy. It takes a few days to get deposited in Peggy, and by that point, I’ve had time to remind myself that my long term goals are more important than my short term goals.
Many financial experts might disagree with this method, urging us to pay off our student loans before traveling or buying nice things. But, I say everything in moderation. Medical school loans are so extensive, if we waited to pay them off before doing anything enjoyable, we’d be 50 years old with kids in college before even thinking about doing something nice for ourselves.
Instead, we have eliminated the debt we can at this point, paying off three credit cards in full over the last two years. Now, we’re chipping away at student loan interest all while saving for the future and getting excited about our next steps.
Saving in this way has dramatically changed the way I live. No longer do I buy something and feel that twinge of guilt about not actually having the funds on hand. Instead, I force myself to be patient, stay focused, and stay organized so that we can reach our long-term goals.
Like I said, I’m not very good at saving.
But, I’m getting better at it every day.