Save first? Yup‼️

Mrs Frugalwoods writes:

Tracking expenses is one of the best–and easiest–ways to get a handle on your finances. You absolutely, positively cannot make informed decisions about your money if you don’t know how you’re spending it or how much you have… Without a holistic picture of how much you spend every month, there’s no way to set savings, debt repayment, or investment goals. It’s a must, folks. No excuses.

Do you agree? I don’t.

In my opinion, your spending should not determine your saving rate or debt reduction goals. Rather, saving first, automatically, steadily should determine your default spending limit, your budget, your lifestyle. You are then forced to make spending decisions. It only takes a few months to get in the groove.

A word of caution, as your income grows, don’t let your spending grow to match it. Instead, keep your savings as a percentage of your gross income.

8 comments

  1. Richard, I know you like to support you this viewpoint of saving first, and I agree. What harm is it to first understand specifically where overspending is occurring? This is done well through tracking spending.

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    1. No harm as long as it doesn’t lead to concluding that one can’t save or must reduce saving and not spending

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  2. I am 100% in agreement with Mrs. Frugalwoods and Dwayne. You need to track your expenses to see where you have been to be able to set realistic goals of where you want to go. You also need to track income and expenses to see if you are meeting your goals and what course corrections are necessary if you aren’t.

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    1. Sorry, I don’t see it. You can do all the tracking possible, but after saving first. Everyone knows what they bring home in net pay and unless they live on credit cards, they know what they spend. And that’s the point. You need to have after savings income determine available spending, not spending determine savings. Trying to set a spending budget before saving leads to stress and rationalizing spending IMO.

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  3. I am still in the camp if you don’t know where your money is going you don’t know where you are wasting money. You will always have fixed costs that must be paid first unless you are still living in your mom’s basement. If you save first and start a family, do you not buy diapers or do you sell your house and rent a trailer so that you can keep saving first?

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    1. Always save first or you can easily conclude you can’t afford to save. After you save and see what’s left THEN you look at your spending to see what needs to change or be eliminated.

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      1. You never have explained how you know or knew exactly how much you can afford to save or how much you must save. We know that there are only arbitrary retirement saving numbers that most people can never get to when they first start working so they don’t even try to save for retirement. Did you just pick an arbitrary figure of 5, 10, 15, 20% ? What if you could only save 3%? Want if you only want to save 3%? You are able to pay all your bills then blow the rest of your paycheck on wants such as “useless stuff and tattoos”. What if you tracked your expenses and found that you could be saving 20% but you were only still saving 3% like you were in your twenties almost making minimum wage? What if you track expenses and realize you need to upgrade your job skills so that you can save more to reach that retirement goal? Or do you just put $100 in the bank and say “I saved” and now I can spend the rest of my paycheck? The day will come when you look at your storage unit and say “I should have saved more” but I was too busy buying junk with the money that was leftover in paycheck after I saved only 3%.

        I think your save first philosophy will work for people over a certain income level ($50K, $100K, I don’t know) or get a big jump in pay and can put money into savings without missing it. But using the boiling frog analogy, as low wage earners usually only get small raises, I don’t think they can see that they can save more. If they do realize they have extra money left over and are buying “wants” they may decide it is time to buy a house. A mortgage broker will tell them that they can afford more house then they really can afford. If they had a budget, they would exactly how much house they can afford and save and still be able to eat and have a life.

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      2. it’s not a matter of “afford to save” it’s a matter of what one can afford to spend. You start by saving at least 10% of gross pay. Then you increase it with every raise. Your spending is limited by what’s left. That may mean discretionary spending may have to be changed. I doubt there is any person who doesn’t know those things they spend money on that are not necessary. We are not talking about the poor, but the great majority of Americans

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