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I’m Struggling Financially – Do I Still Need to Save?

Gentleman reviewing finances at desk and placing coins into his piggy bank.

For many individuals grappling with financial challenges, the idea of saving money can seem like an unattainable luxury. Especially if your struggles are such that you sometimes find yourself running out of money before the end of the month or making difficult choices in the last week before your next paycheck. However, neglecting your savings when the going gets tough can make things even more difficult down the line. In this article, we will go over why it’s important to continue saving when the going gets tough and discuss some practical ways that you can make it happen.

Why you should continue saving in financially challenging times

  1. Be prepared for emergencies 
    Life is a roller coaster ride, and you never know what’s waiting for you just around the bend. When unexpected expenses do come up, having a financial safety net can help you weather the storm with your finances intact. If you are having trouble financially now, it will be that much more of a struggle to deal with an unexpected expense on top of everything you usually have to pay for. That may all sound scary and intimidating, but don’t worry – we’ll cover tips for how you can make this happen later in the article.

  2. Build financial discipline
    If money is tight now, chances are you can stand to be a bit more disciplined with how you spend it. Setting aside money for savings each month, even if it’s just a tiny bit, can help foster financial discipline and cultivate a mindset of planning for the future. Start with a reasonable goal and make a habit of following through on it, then over time you can build up more and more savings. It all starts with discipline and building the right habits.

  3. Practice reaching financial goals
    When there’s barely enough money to get through the month, saving up for something big can seem ridiculously out of reach. However, setting and reaching small financial goals can be a powerful motivator for fiscal responsibility. Again, it’s important to start with a goal you can reach so that you feel that sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep reaching your goals. If you start with something ridiculously big, the opposite happens – the sense of disappointment might make you give up on your goal, or even worse, you might be too intimidated to truly start working towards it.

How to save during times of financial difficulty

  1. Start small 
    You’ve probably seen the standard expert recommendations for saving like putting upward of 20% of one’s monthly income into savings or having 3-6 months of expenses in an emergency fund, but if you’re struggling just to make it through the month, you can ignore this advice. Everyone’s financial situation is different, so don’t feel like you need to either follow those numbers or not save at all. Instead, start off with an amount that you can manage each month, no matter how small it is. The important thing is to build the right habits and start saving. Over time, you can increase what you’re saving each month as you get more comfortable and gain more control over your finances.

  2. Look for ways to trim discretionary and non-discretionary expenses
    We all like to think that we don’t waste money, but even if you feel like you’ve already exhausted all opportunities to trim the fat, think again. Check for any subscriptions you have that are unnecessary or that you just don’t use anymore (you might have even forgot you’re paying for them). Think about swapping out expensive name-brand products for cheaper generics next time you’re at the store. Instead of paying for a simple product or service, try your hand at an inexpensive DIY option instead.

    Next, review your non-discretionary expenses. Reach out to your insurance companies to negotiate for a lower premium or shop for a new, cheaper plan. Do the same with your phone, cable, and Internet companies as well, or you might even consider cutting the cord from cable altogether. Look for ways to conserve energy around the house like switching to more cost-efficient LED light bulbs or making sure your home has proper insulation. Try minimizing car use by carpooling, walking, or using public transportation when possible to reduce fuel costs.

  3. Boost your income 
    Another obvious way to improve your financial circumstances is to make a sincere effort to bring in more money. You may be working a full-time job, but devoting even a few hours a week to a side hustle can make a big difference in your monthly budget. Consider freelancing for hire, working for a ride-sharing company over the weekend, or hiring yourself out as a consultant in your chosen field. There are even some opportunities you may be able to take advantage of from the comfort of your own home. You can also try to boost your income by investing in yourself so that you can advance in your current career. There are a lot of free and low-cost courses and resources online that can help boost your resume and give you the confidence to go for that promotion.

  4. Explore government assistance 
    In times of financial hardship, it’s essential to be aware of government assistance and support programs, such as food stamps. These programs may provide temporary relief, enabling you to allocate a portion of your income to savings. Be sure to research all of the options available to you – you may qualify for assistance that you wouldn’t expect.

  5. Seek financial guidance 
    If you find yourself continually struggling to make ends meet, consider seeking professional financial guidance. Financial counselors or advisors can help you create a realistic budget, explore options for debt management, and provide personalized strategies for saving.

Saving money for the future can seem like a luxury or even a burden if you’re struggling to get through this month financially. However, that doesn’t make saving any less important. In fact, it may be even more important to start building the right habits so that future months don’t have the same financial stress. Use the tips in this article to start saving, no matter how much it is, and build towards a healthier financial future.

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