It’s Not Savings Unless You Save It

It’s Not Savings Unless You Save It

Money doesn't grow on tree ! But investing in them is the best way to capture the Carbon
Creative Commons License photo credit: pfala

I hear a lot about savings lately. Whether it is people telling all of us to save money (which I always take to mean to actually PUT money into a savings account and leave it there), or if it’s hearing people talk about how much money they saved on this that or the other purchase.

But you haven’t saved money on anything unless you walked into a store and expected to pay $60 and only paid $20 and then proceeded to plop $40 into savings.

You aren’t saving money if you walk into a store and buy something you wouldn’t have bought anyway but buy it because it was 75% off. You just spent money.

I just found out that next year’s taxes are half of what we expected them to be. I am not saving that money off my taxes unless I actually SAVE IT.

I was listening to NPR a couple months ago and they were interviewing a woman who coupons. She even claimed then that she was buying things because they were on sale and not because she even needed them or would have bought them otherwise. Well, even in you’re getting great deals whether it’s at your grocery store, or a drugstore or the dollar store, it’s only saving money if you are buying things you’d have bought anyway and you are spending less than you budgeted and put the savings into your savings account.

Here are some great posts I have read recently about savings.

2 Reasons People Are Not Saving Enough Money
Specific Savings Goals to Increase Accountability
Five Concrete Ways to Pay Yourself First

What do you think? Do you consider that you saved yourself some money whether you actually put it into savings or not? What do you do to make actually saving money easier?

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  1. I agree! I actually do “save” when I buy something for less than I was planning. If I save $1000 to buy something and then I find it on a great sale for $750, the extra $250 not spent gets rolled into my emergency fund. This helps me focus on finding the best deals for things because I don’t have to spend all my budgeted money on it and my emergency fund grows as a result.

  2. True that, Emily. Spending is spending, even if it’s just spending less. Saving is a different matter entirely.

  3. I totally agree with you. Unless you say, “Ok, I was willing to spend $100 on this, but I got it for $80 and now I’m going to put $20 in my emergency fund” then really, yeah you’re “saving” money but it might just get absorbed into buying something else.

    In order to save money, you have to tell that saved money where to go and what to do.

    And, holy cow, if you bought something for 90% off but you didn’t really need it, you didn’t save 90%! You spent however much it cost.

  4. I dont think that anyone can do saving at any time they want..

    For me it is really hard to do savings rather I spend a lot..

    I try to save but everything goes wrong and I have to spend..

  5. That is so true! The best way to pay yourself is to have it automatically drafted in a savings. If I didn’t do that, it would be gone for sure! I posted a few days about teaching kids about money. Hope you saw it and approve:-) I don’t usually post about $$$ since I’m really awful with it. But I hope to break the cycle with my kiddos.

  6. So true! The best thing I’ve done was to have automatic withdrawals to savings. Yes, we end up using it for needs, but at least we had our savings account to pull from! That automatic transfer works well for me.

  7. I guess I fall into the group that doesn’t actually save what I save. Our savings accounts are pretty much where we want them to be. But for the market tanking, our retirement accounts would be where we want them to be too. So I “spend” every cent we save on extra principle payments for our home mortgage. It’s not cash savings, but paying off the mortgage sooner will result in saving money we otherwise would have spent on interest.

  8. For me, buying something at discount means I have that discounted amount to spend on something else. It allows me to buy stuff I wouldn’t have purchased if not for a discount… But those thing I would actually use, make my life easier or better or just make me hapyp. I think spending money is like eating well: Both money and food should have budgets, and you stick to that budget on a a regular bsis–but there must be times that you splurge, or you’ll end up binging.

    I think this article is very valid and many people fall into the “savings” trap, but I believe that many other people understand what they’re doing.

  9. Donna, I agree with you and I completely understand spending less in one area in order to be able to afford other things that we use, make life easier or buy just to splurge. But that’s not saving money – it’s simply spending it elsewhere. They’re two different things, and I think saying that a person is “saving” money by spending less is only true if that person does in fact, save that money. Otherwise, it’s just spending.

  10. Man, I learned in 11th grade history class all about this stuff. If you are spending money, you are spending money. It’s not actually saving if you are spending money on stuff you don’t need.

  11. I somehow missed this post a while back. Great points. Thanks for sharing my article.

  12. I do the whole CVS, RiteAid, Walgreens rebating thing. Initially I had an outlay of cash, but now I’m working with the money that I get back through rebates and extra bucks. My focus is on the “Free”. Sure I get things that I personally don’t need, but those items can be given as gifts, used to stuff Christmas stockings, and given as a donation to local churches or charitable organizations (everybody needs toothpaste). I have gotten quite a few expensive cosmetics that I would never have bought for myself because of the price for free. In the past two months I have gotten over $200 of free items using these programs. It’s really fun and kind of addictive plus I will not spend a dime on stuffing my kids stockings this year!

  13. There are things that I would buy any way (toilet paper, tissues, etc.) We try to use real towels instead of paper ones when we can, and try to limit what we need to buy.

    I would also buy things for our emergency stash–long lasting food items, etc.

    I would also buy gifts for people–ones I know that they would like and we would have bought them a gift anyway.

    I buy many things in thrift stores (I use a wheelchair and my clothes last maybe 2 months because they get caught in gears or I have to go out in rain/snow…)

    So IF I see a savings in these areas where I would buy anyway, then I would buy it on sale, and I would buy extra proportions so that I did not have to buy more later. But I never think I saved money even if I would have bought the item anyway. I was always say “Look, I got this blouse and it only cost me $1.50 because the thrift store was having a 50% off sale…” or Thus it fits into my budget because I was planning on spending $30 for clothes this month! “look, we got twice as much toilet paper as we needed for the same price–so we don’t have to buy any next month!”

    If we substituted “it only cost me — ” for “I saved—” we would be much better off.

    I also have NEVER understood the term “I invested x in a item bought.” I invest money in stocks, bonds, savings accounts. I do not invest in items…

  14. turn the lights off when not necessary. Don’t use too much computer. Don’t turn on both computer and TV at the same time ( no one can watch tv and surf online at the same time) If you can surf and watch tv at the same time then install a tv program and software on your pc instead. grocery shop once every two weeks and buy everything that you need for two weeks. Open the windows instead of the AC, use electric fan when necesary. Geez, I wish my wife do all of these things I summarize here. she does the opposite all the time. Oh yeah during your payday, make sure you put some on your savings.

  15. Excellent post! I’ve always cringed at the idea of “the more you spend, the more you save!” Huh?

  16. Success always comes after failure :D So let’s cheer up. :)


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