Hereine, I share another installment of life lessons:

A key to saving . . . Saving early in the month . . . not leaving saving until the end of the month.

Now, the advice above on the importance of saving and investing may sound all well and good, but one may ask: “how do I save money in the first place?” The best way(s) to save money will depend on one’s particular circumstances. However, a good start in general for most people would be to make arrangements to have money saved (or invested) before the end of the month, without even thinking about it.

I can testify to these approaches from personal experience. After getting married to a wonderful woman, I traded in the pirate-like career of a contractor for the relative stability of a permanent employee at a law firm. This was not an overnight process, and it had its hiccups along the way. However, I did manage to move from a life of temporary contract gigs to what looked like more steady and stable employment. And, my expectation at the time was that I would look after my wife and self by saving money every month. It didn’t work out so well. At the time, I thought that saving was something one did at the end of the month. I thought that one paid one’s expenses, and what was left over could go into savings. You can probably guess what happened instead. All too often, expenses were too high, leaving virtually nothing left over. So, when the end of the month rolled around, I became too nervous worrying about an overdraft in our checking account to transfer anything to savings. Saving became something to do ‘next month’ — always ‘next month’ instead of this month.

In contrast, while employed at this position, I signed up for my employer’s 401k plan. Under this plan, I had a deduction taken out of my paycheck twice every month and invested, mostly in stocks. As a result, by the time I concluded this job after six years, my 401k account had grown to several thousand in investments. The contrast is clear: leaving saving till the end of the month led to no significant savings; deducting money every paycheck led to thousands of dollars.

And, one can still make arrangements to save before the end of the month without a 401k type device. For example, one could set up a saving account and set up recurring transfers from one’s checking account to one’s savings account. The easiest time to make such transfers would probably be on the same day, or shortly after, you are paid. That way, you may not notice the deduction as much, and so it will hurt less.

For a more thorough treatment of this subject, I strongly recommend “The Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach, also available on iBooks.

Jay Sherratt is a legal professional with over a decade of experience. Jay’s interests include religion, philosophy, and personal finance.

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