Rethinking Your Struggle to Save

Every time I’m in a group of friends and broach the subject of saving, I’m met with collective groans and sighs of frustration, followed by various complaints:

“I started saving but couldn’t keep up.”

“I haven’t even started. I don’t have a single ngwee to spare.”

“Every time I save, a more pressing need comes up and I’m forced to withdraw that money.”

These conversations are often permeated with a sense of helplessness and guilt that a great financial practice that is expected of any sensible adult is so hard to implement. Many are in their 30s ,40s, and even 50s but do not possess a single savings plan or account. An outsider’s easiest inclination is to blame them for being undisciplined and irresponsible, but the struggle goes deeper than that.

Our world right now glorifies and amplifies consumerism and instant gratification. The debilitating message everywhere is to experience instant euphoria and happiness by utilizing the numerous payment channels and credit facilities that are on offer. In these moments, thoughts about the future and the sense of obligation to prepare adequately for it, fade to an obscure, half-hearted resolve to ‘start saving tomorrow.’ Many can testify that that day never comes and if it does, it isn’t long before the plan fails and savings are once again spent. It’s a torturous cycle that causes many people to eventually give up altogether and continue prioritizing their immediate wants and needs.

One of the first things that needs to happen for this bleak scenario to shift is that people should invite and embrace a mindset shift. The layers of self-blame and anguish need to be faced and then discarded because the reality is that failure to save money is more reflective of the environment the individual resides in than in their personal flaws. Simply put, some environments make saving extremely hard. Factors like socioeconomic class, political dynamics, family function and structure, level of education, state of employment, cultural expectation, and modern trends, all contribute to an individual’s inability to sustain a savings plan.

A mindset shift also means taking personal responsibility for one’s own present bias, which refers to a tendency to prioritize immediate desires over long-term ones. It is important to examine your own attitude and behavioral patterns. This self-responsibility is what makes it easier to resolve all personal shortcomings that compound on the larger, societal problem. Questions to ask oneself include:

“Do I really need to wait until I’m earning x amount of money before I start saving? What have I tried before that hasn’t worked? What personal challenges do I usually encounter when I start saving? What specific comforts do I want to have in the future? How can I help pioneer and secure my family’s financial status? Am I aware of the various savings and investment plans that government, financial, and corporate institutions offer the public?

That last question is particularly important because it encourages a necessary foray into the previously shrouded areas of financial awareness and intelligence. As you open yourself up to researching and learning as much as you can, you’ll discover that your situation isn’t entirely helpless and that you don’t have to be alone in your journey to save. Indeed, if keeping a money jar in a dark corner of your pantry or depositing cash into a bank account that you know you’ll easily withdraw from again isn’t working, it might be time to consider other savings and investment options.

When offered by a reputable and disciplined organisation, investment mediums like bonds, stocks, shares, and policies, are structured and profitable mediums that can be tailored to your needs and abilities, while securing and even growing your savings. And this would be just one way of thinking outside the box as you begin to shift from helplessness to confidence that you can and will secure your financial future.  There are other ways you can make your savings journey a success, if you’re simply willing to dedicate the time and effort to learn new ways of thinking, planning and behaving.

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