Avoid Eating Cat food on Crackers by Giving To Yourself Year Round

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This post is a part of the Betterment Blogging for a Better Holiday series.

Every year when the holiday season rolls around, many of us think about giving to other people. We spend nearly three months out of the year being told we should be buying gifts for other people. But what about the other 9 months of the year? Many people never consider we should be giving to ourselves year round. And by giving I mean giving in the form of building our savings and retirement accounts to prepare for our future. Why should you be doing this? I’m glad you asked! For starters:

  • You are not getting any younger
  • There will come a day when you no longer can or want to work
  • You can not rely on the government or Social Security to save you

On my blog, The Jenny Pincher, I educate women on getting out of debt and building wealth. While the getting out of debt part is far from fun, it is something that can start showing immediate results for people with some changes in their lives. Building wealth takes a lot longer. Since most of us aren’t retiring today, It’s one of those things that is too easy to put off. Time after time I get excuses from women on why they don’t save. I’ve been doing this long enough and have heard all the excuses! Here are some of my favorites:

  • I’m waiting for a better job
  •  I’m waiting until I’m older
  • I’m waiting until I’m married and I will let my husband take care of it

And on and on it goes. You know how ridiculous this sounds reading it, right?! So why do so many of us do it?! If you are making excuses for why you are not saving, let me share some statistics to see if I can help put this in perspective:

  • 38% of women 30-55 years old are worried they will live at or near the poverty level because they cannot adequately save for retirement.
  • 54% of women have little to no money left to save for retirement once they pay their bills, rising to 62% among Hispanic women and 62% among African American women.
  • Americans save somewhere around 1% of our wages –less than any other industrialized nation.

Source: Stockton Women’s Network 

What are we doing to ourselves America?! This behavior is just not acceptable. Unless you want to be eating cat food on crackers when you retire, I suggest you take some time to start giving to yourself year round.

Why Giving to Yourself Needs to Be a Priority Today

  • No one else will do it for you – That’s right. Remember what I said earlier? Social Security is not an acceptable retirement plan. Your future husband has nothing to do with saving for you today. We have to snap out of this mindset and start making saving for ourselves a priority TODAY.
  • You work to hard to have nothing – I’m sure you feel this way. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say to me that they work so hard but have nothing left. How does that make you feel? Truthfully, it should make you mad enough to change your situation! Having a savings account to fall back on in an emergency can give you a little breathing room when the unexpected comes up. Retirement savings gives us the piece of mind to know we can take care of ourselves when we are older.
  • We need to take better care of ourselves – Yes I’m talking to all of you reading this. Many of us stretch ourselves so thin. We are a sleep deprived generation of people who eat poorly and don’t exercise enough. Our financial habits are no better. We spend too much and don’t save enough. Remember those stats I mentioned above? About eating cat food on crackers? Unless you want to end up like that, you have to start setting aside money for your future!
  • It’s ok to be selfish – I’m giving you permission. Sometimes it takes someone to tell you it’s ok to do something. If you have been putting off saving, I’m giving you permission today to start being a little selfish and taking care of YOU first.

My challenge to you this holiday season is to come up with one way you can begin to give to yourself in 2013. This may mean establishing your emergency fund with at least $2,000 or beginning to fund your retirement plan. If you are already saving now, that’s great! Can you save more? There is no one size fits all formula when it comes to saving,  just make sure you do something so you are not eating cat food on crackers in your retirement.

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